Environmental Stewardship

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.

Environmental Review
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.

In 2008, the draft EIS was released for public review. Following public comment and agency review, the Corps announced in February 2009 they would move forward with a supplemental DEIS to include additional studies primarily centered around hydrologic and flow modeling. 

The supplemental DEIS was released on June 19, 2015. A final EIS would then be completed in 2016 with a final permit decision due in 2017.

 SDEIS, additional information at U.S. Army Corps website  
 SDEIS Executive Summary
 Proposed Conceptual Mitigation Plan

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. 

Poudre River in Fort Collins
Northern Water is working with a group of Poudre Basin stakeholders
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 a variety of Poudre Basin stakeholders 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.
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.

Four NISP Alternatives
In the supplemental 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 SDEIS 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 preferred alternative includes Glade Reservoir and the South Platte Water Conservation Project.

Alternative   Key Features Map
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.

Preferred
Alternative
Map
 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.