Fort Collins staff is encouraged by the changes to Northern Water’s Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) proposal but that doesn’t mean the City is ready to remove its objections to the project. One change eliminates a pipeline between Horsetooth Reservoir and one of the new reservoirs (Glade), alleviating concern regarding water quality in Horsetooth. The new proposal also would deliver water to the Poudre River during low flow periods, which is likely to eliminate “dry-ups” to certain sections of the river and be beneficial to the fish and general health of the river.
On Feb. 7 a resolution will be considered by City Council authorizing staff “to explore the City’s and the District’s mutual interests in order to ascertain whether those interests can be met, including through potential agreements between the City and Northern regarding the City’s and the District’s goals and issues related to NISP…” Interestingly, in a recent memo on the topic staff also said, “without a fundamental technical understanding as to how NISP could be operated to achieve the City’s peak flow objectives, it is likely the City would have little to no credibility with the regulatory agencies.” It sounds like the staff is saying the City needs to offer solutions to the objections it has raised; something the City may not have the expertise to do.
Note: The permitting process for NISP has taken much more time and money than anticipated when it was proposed. The US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) began the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process in 2004. The final EIS is expected to be released by the end of 2017 however the Corps will not determine the fate of the project until 2018 assuming the current timeline holds.