Fact vs Fiction


Larimer County approved the 1041 Permit with 80 conditions.

That’s a fact. In many instances, Northern Water requested conditions be attached to the process because we know how important it is to complete this project in a way that is consistent with our values and those of the people we serve. We are grateful for the close attention that has been paid by experts during the many years of careful study, as it gives us confidence that we’re doing things the right way.

NISP will help reduce “buy and dry” practices.

It certainly will! For those who don’t know, “buy and dry” is the term used when an entity (typically a municipality or water provider) purchases water rights (and sometimes the land) from a farm. Water is then diverted and used for drinking water, and the land is left dry and unproductive. Unfortunately, this is a fairly common practice in Northern Colorado and has dramatic negative impacts on agriculture and our economy. Without NISP, we’d expect water providers to “buy and dry” approximately 100 square miles of agricultural land to secure the water planned for by NISP.

NISP envisions a better way and requires no farm purchases to collect the water Northern Colorado needs. WaterSecure – a key element of NISP – provides an alternative to traditional “buy and dry” practices and allows farmers to benefit financially from their valuable water rights while keeping water flowing to their fields. Learn more about this innovative program.

NISP will help reduce overuse of natural resources at places like Horsetooth Reservoir.

That’s a fact. One of the many reasons we call Northern Colorado home is the amazing outdoor activities waiting right outside our door. Our quality of life has drawn many people to the area; friends and neighbors who sometimes crowd the paths and trails of our favorite recreation areas. Fortunate for everyone, NISP will not just increase the water supply; it will increase the supply of recreation opportunities by making them available at the new Glade Reservoir. More than $24 million will be invested to build a visitor center, trails, campgrounds and a boat ramp. Get ready for more outdoor fun, thanks to NISP!

NISP will increase water flows in the Poudre River during drought periods.

That’s right! Water will be strategically released from Glade Reservoir throughout the year every year, which will help improve flows in the Poudre River even during droughts.

NISP will improve water quality in the Poudre River, in particular with respect to reducing temperatures to improve river health.

Very true! If you’ve ever gone for a summer swim in one of the deeper lakes or reservoirs in Colorado, you may have noticed the deeper water is cooler than the water near the surface that is warmed by the sun’s rays. One of our commitments is to put that phenomenon to work to help keep the downstream ecosystems cool and healthy. To do this, we’ll blend water from various levels of Glade Reservoir as we release it into the Poudre River, improving stream temperatures from existing conditions. Read more on pages 32 and 33 of our Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Plan, and in Volume 4, page A-166 of the Final Environmental Impact Statement


Releases from Glade Reservoir will damage water quality in the Poudre River.

This is fiction. Years of study found that Poudre River water quality will improve under NISP. Areas of improvement will include water temperature and volume – the first will be accomplished by strategically releasing water from Glade Reservoir in a way that will keep downstream ecosystems cool and thriving.

NISP will eliminate dry-up points that exist today, and keep the river flowing – a marked improvement over current conditions. How can that be? After careful study, state water quality experts concluded, “the commitments for mitigation and water quality improvement measures are sufficient to result in positive net effects.”

Science shows NISP will harm the Poudre River.

Pure fiction. We embrace the science that has informed our planning during the many years that NISP has been under careful study and review. In places where independent experts and scientists identified negative impacts, Northern Water has made commitments to address the impacts. It is this commitment to honoring the science that has made for a much better project overall, and a finding by the State of Colorado’s Water Quality Division that “no significant degradation is expected as part of the project,” and “the commitments for mitigation and water quality improvement measures are sufficient to result in positive net effects.”  

Blended water from the Poudre and South Platte Rivers will have higher salinity and negatively impact agricultural production.

This is partially true; water from Galeton Reservoir will have different properties than water from the Poudre River, but experts who studied the issue concluded that salinity will accumulate rather slowly. They reported that major reclamation practices to remove excess salinity should not be required with good irrigation management. To address uncertainty with regard to the crop impact analysis, Northern Water is committed to monitoring the blended water. Read more in Volume 4, page A-170 of the Final Environmental Impact Statement.


NISP participants can conserve enough that they don’t need NISP.

This is false. Experts who studied this issue “determined, that even with conservation, the 40,000 AF of firm yield that NISP [will] provide will still be needed… to meet future water supply needs.” Read more in Volume 4, page A-124 of the Final Environmental Impact Statement.


NISP will eliminate valuable, natural flushing flows from the Poudre River.

Fiction. Based on an updated flushing flow analysis, a peak flow operations program was developed by Northern Water and adopted by the State as part of the Fish and Wildlife Mitigation and Enhancement Plan. Also, see Volume 4, page A-188 of the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

Environmental impacts will not be fixed by mitigation and enhancements.

This one’s false, too. Experts at Colorado’s Water Quality Division certified that “no significant degradation is expected as part of the project,” and “the commitments for mitigation and water quality improvement measures are sufficient to result in positive net effects.”  

NISP planners did not look at all the possible alternatives.

Fiction. To come up with the current plan, experts considered, evaluated and screened 215 potential solutions and determined the current configuration best meets the project’s purpose and need, while carefully considering the environmental considerations. Read more in Volume 4, page A-128 of the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

NISP destroys wetlands.

This is only partially true. For the very small area of wetlands that will be negatively impacted by NISP, Northern Water is committed to replacing them on an acre-for-acre basis. Read more in Volume 4, page A-16 of the Final Environmental Impact Statement.


NISP will encourage continued explosive population growth and urban sprawl.

We call this canard “the Field of Dreams” argument, and it has been thoroughly debunked by experts who understand that growth is coming, even if we don’t prepare for it. As reported in Volume 4, page A-155 of the Final Environmental Impact Statement, “…water resource development, growth and land use changes are predicted to continue to occur in the region with or without implementation of any of the alternatives.”

Rendering of Glade Reservoir
Rendering of Galeton Reservoir