The Northern Integrated Supply Project: An update on the proposed water-storage project
Status of Environmental Review
The Army Corps of Engineers is the lead federal agency for the Northern Integrated Supply Project’s compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. The NEPA process is intended to help public officials make decisions based on understanding of environmental consequences, and take actions that protect, restore, and enhance the environment. The Corps is using the Environmental Impact Statement process to make a final permit decision on NISP.
The Corps began the Environmental Impact Statement process in August 2004 and issued a draft for public comment in April 2008. In February 2009, the Corps announced they would move forward with a supplemental DEIS to include additional studies primarily centered around hydrologic and flow modeling.
According to the Corps, the supplemental DEIS is scheduled to be completed and released in mid-2014 for public comment. A final EIS would then be completed in spring 2015 with a final permit decision due in fall 2016.
The Corps has identified seven agencies as cooperating agencies during the EIS process. These are the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Larimer County.
These agencies have additional review responsibilities for studies associated with their areas of expertise. The involvement of these subject matter experts will make the study even more robust and thorough.
Purpose and Need for NISP
The purpose of NISP is to provide the 15 participants’ cities and water districts a new reliable water supply annually through a regional project coordinated by Northern Water. The Glade and Galeton reservoirs — to be located northwest of Fort Collins and east of Ault, respectively — will provide the necessary storage to provide 40,000 acre feet year per year for the participants.
New Poll Confirmed Support for NISP Still Strong
We just sent the results out in our last Enews in October, but it never hurts to reiterate good news: public support for NISP remains overwhelming.
NISP participants wanted to gauge the public’s attitude toward the project since the last poll was conducted in 2008. The results couldn’t be more positive with a 72 percent voter approval for NISP in the survey conducted in July 2013. Support for the project remains strong in Larimer and Weld counties coming in at 68 and 79 percent respectively, while Morgan County had a majority supporting NISP at 60 percent. See more details.
What You Can do to Help
NISP supporters will have an opportunity to provide written public comment and attend public hearings in 2014 when the supplemental DEIS is released to the public, most likely in June. We will communicate dates and locations for the Corps’ public hearings and the details on how to provide comments.
You can also talk with your elected representatives (local, state and national) to let them know your thoughts on the necessity of NISP being permitted and built.
Impact of Recent Floods
The recent flooding that impacted all of northeastern Colorado emphasized again the power of Mother Nature. We offer our heartfelt hope for a return to normal for those impacted, sooner rather than later.
With river flows in the South Platte River tributaries still more than twice the average for December, we are still seeing the flood’s effects. We’ve also been asked if Glade and Galeton reservoirs would have assisted with controlling flood waters.
Realistically, the reservoirs could have diverted some of the floodwaters, although at its height they may not have had a noticeable impact on downstream flooding. With peak flows estimated at 10,000 cubic feet per second at the Poudre Canyon mouth and Glade able to divert about 1,200 cfs maximum, there may not have been a big impact downstream. However as the flows decreased the diversion may have been able to reduce flooding in certain locations. ❖