The NISP participants and Northern Water are committed to building an environmentally responsible project. They will be coordinating a state and wildlife mitigation plan with Colorado Parks & Wildlife.
The general public has had a number of opportunities to participate in the environmental review process. In 2004, Northern Water held informational open houses in several Colorado Front Range communities, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also held three formal public scoping hearings on the NISP proposal.
The Corps received more than 700 comments on water quality, population growth, endangered species, economics, and other topics. A summary of those comments is on the Corps' NISP Scoping Documents Web page.
The Corps released the draft environmental impact statement in April 2008, and the public comment period closed Sept. 13 with more than 2,000 comments.
After further review, the Corps announced in February 2009 that NISP would undergo a supplemental analysis - a supplemental draft environmental impact statement. This process is expected to be completed in 2011, when the SDEIS will be released. Public hearings and a comment period will follow.
NISP Environmental Impact Analysis Northern Water believes that NISP is the most cost-effective, least environmentally damaging alternative to help meet our region's future water needs.
Without pooling resources to build NISP, the 15 participants likely would pursue separate projects and/or accelerate their dry up of agricultural lands. Both are more environmentally damaging alternatives.
Northern Water is working with Colorado Parks & Wildlife and others to provide additional flows in the Poudre River to establish and enhance a year-round trout fishery through Fort Collins.
Protecting the Poudre River NISP includes several features that will protect the Poudre River and our environment:
- NISP will prevent the permanent dry-up of at least 60,000 acres of agricultural lands by providing municipal users with an alternative source of supply. Dry-up can have enormous impacts on river ecosystems, wetlands, and local economies. The State of Colorado predicts the South Platte watershed may lose up to 225,000 acres of irrigated farmland by 2030 due to water transfers.
- NISP will honor several instream flow requirements on the Poudre, which will help to protect flows through Fort Collins. The project will not dry up the Poudre River. Northern Water is also pursuing opportunities to improve flows through town during low-flow months.
- NISP will protect habitat and recreation within the wild and scenic Poudre Canyon. Glade Reservoir is located off-stream on undeveloped land already owned by Northern Water. The reservoir will fill using a diversion structure near the canyon mouth that already exists, negating the need to build new structures on the Poudre River.
- Sixty percent of the water stored in Glade Reservoir will come from agricultural water sharing partnerships. The reservoir will fill primarily with water that has been diverted from the Poudre River for more than a century.
- Northern Water is working with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to provide additional flows in the Poudre River to enhance the trout fishery through Fort Collins.
- Most of NISP's impacts to the Poudre River will be mitigated through channel improvement and habitat restoration.
Northern Water conducts tours of the proposed Glade Reservoir site northwest of Fort Collins.
The Environmental Impact Statement Process
The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process is a federally mandated requirement. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the lead federal agency for the review process. See the Corps' website
for additional NISP information and the draft EIS released in April 2008.
Four NISP Alternatives
In the draft EIS, the Corps evaluated the potential impacts of four NISP alternatives on a host of resources, including water quality, wildlife, socioeconomic factors, hydrology, wetlands, and others.
This DEIS included three structural alternatives and a No Action Alternative: what the 15 project participants would do to meet their future water needs in the absence of NISP.
The Corps selected three action alternatives that are practicable, meet NISP's Purpose and Need
, and minimize environmental impacts. The Corps is also analyzing a no action alternative. This no-action alternative study was updated in April 2010 and can be found in these documents:
The following table describes the four alternatives:
|| Key Features
| #1: Glade
Reservoir and the South Platte Water Conservation Project (SPWCP)
|170,000-acre-foot Glade Reservoir and associated forebay, pump station, pipelines, Poudre Valley Canal and river diversion improvements, and relocation of seven miles of U.S. Hwy 287.
45,000-acre-foot Galeton Reservoir and associated forebay, pump station, pipeline from the South Platte River to Galeton Reservoir, and pipelines from Galeton Reservoir to the Larimer & Weld and New Cache ditches.
| #2: Cactus Hill Reservoir and the SPWCP
||180,000-acre-foot Cactus Hill Reservoir and associated forebay, pump stations, Poudre Valley Canal and river diversion improvements, and pipelines.
Same SPWCP configuration as Alternative #1.
|Cactus Hill & SPWCP Map
| #3: Agricultural to municipal transfers, Glade Reservoir and a reduced SPWCP
||Same Glade Reservoir configuration as Alternative #1.
SPWCP with a smaller 20,000-acre-foot Galeton Reservoir.
12,000 acre feet of firm yield from permanent agricultural-to-municipal transfers.
Sub alternative will replace Glade with Cactus Hill and use the same Cactus Hill configuration as Alternative #2.
| #4: No action
||Evaluates how the NISP partners would meet their future water supply needs in the absence of NISP.
Assumes that many of the NISP partners would rely on the transfer of agricultural water and would build new infrastructure, including storage.