Frequently Asked Questions About NISP

Is this project needed? 

Yes! The Northern Integrated Supply Project will supply 15 Northern Front Range water providers with 40,000 acre-feet of new, reliable water supplies. The 15 NISP participants include 11 fast-growing communities and four water districts within the Northern Front Range. They currently serve water to about 250,000 residents, with that number expected to double by 2050. Additionally, since 2009, stream flows in the Poudre and South Platte rivers have been high enough in most years that had the project been complete and storing water, millions of acre-feet of water still would have flowed into Nebraska. NISP will help put more of that water to beneficial use here in Colorado. All NISP participants have demonstrated a need for this new supply.

Why do we need another reservoir? Can’t we just conserve water instead?

The Northern Integrated Supply Project participants are pursuing an all-of-the-above strategy to meet their future water needs. In addition to NISP, they are embracing conservation efforts, alternative transfer methods with ag-water suppliers and reuse opportunities. The participants have already collectively reduced their water consumption by more than 20 percent in recent years. Despite these efforts, conservation measures alone cannot meet future residential water demands.

Where will the two reservoirs be located?

Glade Reservoir will be located northwest of Fort Collins, while Galeton Reservoir will be northeast of Greeley. 

How large will these reservoirs be?

Glade Reservoir will be 5 miles long, 280 feet deep at its deepest, and have the capacity to store 170,000 acre-feet of water – slightly larger than Horsetooth Reservoir. The surface area of Glade Reservoir will be about 1,600 acres when full.

Galeton Reservoir will store about 45,600 acre-feet at full capacity with a maximum depth of approximately 85 feet and a dam length of over 2 miles. The surface area of Galeton Reservoir will be about 2,000 acres when full. 

Will Glade Reservoir capturing flows from the Poudre River dry up the river as it flows downstream?

For starters, there are a number of water users downstream who are higher in priority, so water from the Poudre River must be delivered to them before Glade Reservoir can fill. Glade Reservoir will only fill during times of higher flows. Furthermore, the NISP Fish and Wildlife Mitigation and Enhancement Plan includes an array of components that address Poudre River flows, such as:

  • An operational configuration that releases 18 cubic feet per second to 25 cfs year-round from Glade Reservoir to the Poudre River, eliminating existing dry-up points in the river and improving streamflows
  • A Poudre River peak-flow operations program that results in little to no diversions during peak flow conditions during 90 percent of years 

How will the water be delivered from the reservoirs to the participants?

Approximately 50 miles of pipeline will be needed to deliver water to the project participants. If the finalized pipeline route goes through a certain property, and an easement is required, the landowner will be compensated for the fair market value of the land as well as any reparations for loss of crops, landscaping, etc.

How much is this project going to cost and who is paying for the project?

The project is estimated to cost about $1.1 billion. The project will be fully paid for by the 15 project participants. Those participants are the Central Weld County Water District, Dacono, Eaton, Erie, Evans, Firestone, Fort Collins-Loveland Water District, Fort Lupton, Fort Morgan, Frederick, Lafayette, Left Hand Water District, Morgan County Quality Water District, Severance and Windsor.

What kind of steps are being taken to protect the surrounding wildlife and environment as this project moves forward?

The NISP Fish and Wildlife Mitigation and Enhancement Plan – approved by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission, Colorado Water Conservation Board and Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2017 – includes an array of components that address issues raised during the permitting and public comment processes, such as:

  • An operational configuration that releases 18 cubic feet per second to 25 cfs year-round from Glade Reservoir to the Poudre River, eliminating existing dry-up points in the river and improving streamflows
  • A Poudre River peak-flow operations program that results in little to no diversions during peak flow conditions during 90 percent of years
  • Wildlife habitat conservation
  • Water quality improvements
  • Retrofitting four existing diversion structures to allow fish to migrate freely up and down river – and for flows to continue downstream
  • Stream channel and habitat improvements
  • Fishery and recreation benefits at Glade Reservoir

Additionally, in the summer of 2018, officials from the Army Corps of Engineers released a Final Environmental Impact Statement outlining the impacts of NISP, as well as three alternative projects. It also looks at the effects to the environment if no action alternative is approved. In addition to marking yet another step in a 15-year federal permitting process, the FEIS showed that no new significant issues have popped up and that the impacts can and will be mitigated.

How safe will the project be?

Multiple safety measures are put in place for any dam project. The dam is being permitted through the Colorado State Engineers Offices, which has strict safety and design standards. The dam is being designed to withstand huge weather events, seismic activities, soil shifts, etc. The pipelines will be constructed with engineered steel to withstand surges and pressures within the line. The project as a whole will go through a series of quality control measures, monitoring procedures, and checks from regulatory agencies. Some of these items include a hydrostatic test of pipelines above operating pressures, slow filling of the reservoir to ensure stability, testing during construction (concrete strength, compaction requirements, welding, etc.), and many others. The pipeline will automatically shut down in the case of leaks.

Does the project have broad support in the region?

It does indeed. The dozens of endorsements for the Northern Integrated Supply Project come from a variety of sources, including state and local officials, business organizations, water districts, local newspapers and others. See a full list.

Additionally, in 2013, a survey was conducted that showed broad support for NISP among Northern Colorado voters.  

Why has this project taken so long?

The Northern Integrated Supply Project participants entered the formal federal permitting process in 2004. The federal environmental permitting process consists of a thorough analysis of project needs, impacts and ways to mitigate those impacts and that takes time. Learn more about the project’s history here.

How long will construction last?

It’s anticipated that Glade Reservoir construction will last about four years, while Galeton Reservoir and its associated pipelines are expected to take about three years to complete. From 2023 onward, multiple project components will be in construction including the reservoirs, highway relocation, conveyance pipelines and pump stations, mitigation measures, etc. Here’s a timeline that covers our expected progress moving forward:

  • Summer 2018 – FEIS released by the Army Corps
  • 2019 – Anticipated approval of the 401 water quality certification by CDPHE
  • 2020 – Permit decision and anticipated final Record of Decision by the Army Corps
  • 2019-2022 – Final design work
  • 2023-2027 - Glade Reservoir construction dates
  • 2027-2028 – Galeton Reservoir and associated pipelines constructed