NISP Overview

NEW! NISP Fact Sheet

Gov. Hickenlooper letter supporting Fish and Wildlife Mitigation and Enhancement Plan

NISP Fish and Wildlife Mitigation and Enhancement Plan - Final Version

NISP Mitigation Plan Receives Approval from the Colorado Water Conservation Board

NISP Mitigation Plan receives Parks & Wildlife Approval

The Northern Integrated Supply Project is a proposed water storage and distribution project that will supply 15 Northern Front Range water partners with 40,000 acre-feet of new, reliable water supplies.

The project consists of:

  • Two reservoirs (Glade and Galeton)
  • A forebay reservoir
  • Two pump plants
  • Pipelines to deliver water for exchange with two irrigation companies
  • Improvements to an existing canal to divert water off the Poudre River near the canyon mouth

 At 170,000 acre-feet, Glade Reservoir is slightly larger than neighboring Horsetooth Reservoir. Construction of Glade Reservoir will require the relocation of seven miles of U.S. Highway 287 northwest of Fort Collins and will provide a recreational amenity to Northern Colorado.

NISP will store excess water currently leaving the state in years of abundance. Since 2009, and including this year, more than 5.5 million acre-feet of water will have left the state downstream to Nebraska over and above legal requirements. Through an exchange with two local ditch companies, the project will provide some water in all years.

Project Status

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began the Environmental Impact Statement process in August 2004 and issued a draft for public comment in April 2008. In February 2009, the Corps announced they would move forward with a Supplemental Draft DEIS to include additional studies primarily centered around hydrologic and flow modeling.  The Supplemental Draft DEIS was released June 19, 2015, for public comment.

The Corps is currently working to complete the Final Environmental Impact Statement for NISP. Following release of the Supplemental Draft EIS in June 2015 and subsequent public comment, the Corps has been sorting through and addressing more than 500 comments and 4,000 pages of documentation as it works toward a FEIS.

The Corps estimates completing the FEIS in 2018, with a Record of Decision scheduled for 2019.

In the meantime, Northern Water staff, working on behalf of the 15 NISP participants, have begun discussions with federal and state agencies on the fish and wildlife mitigation plan and water quality certification. The ROD will be the federal agency’s final determination on whether the project can proceed, and if so, what mitigation and enhancement conditions will be placed on the NISP participants as they build NISP. The state has similar determinations and requirements through its Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Plan and Section 401 Water Quality Certification processes.

NISP in the News

New NISP plan: Add to Poudre flows in Fort Collins - Coloradoan, April 29, 2016

Colorado Water Plan may be good omen for NISP – Coloradoan, Nov. 19, 2015

In July, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held open houses and public hearings in Fort Collins and Greeley for the NISP Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

On June 19, the NISP SDEIS became available for review on the Army Corps of Engineers website. 

The Corps accepted written comments on the NISP SDEIS through Sept. 3.

A final EIS is expected to be completed in 2018 with a final permit decision due in 2019.

Another Milestone - Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement Released:

 Northern Water News Release 

 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers News Release

 SDEIS, additional information at U.S. Army Corps website

 NISP Endorsement/Supporters List

NISP Fish and Wildlife Mitigation and Enhancement Plan

On June 9, 2017, Northern Water submitted a Fish and Wildlife Mitigation and Enhancement Plan Fish and Wildlife Mitigation and Enhancement Plan to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission.

Based on comments received and further discussion with Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff the NISP Fish and Wildlife Mitigation and Enhancement Plan was updated and resubmitted Aug. 22, 2017, and approved by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission on Sept. 7, 2017, and the Colorado Water Conservation Board on Sept. 20, 2017. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper wrote a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers on Nov. 7, 2017, outlining the state's approval of the Plan.

The Plan includes both a Mitigation Plan, which mitigates fish and wildlife related impacts of NISP, as well as an Enhancement Plan, which outlines fish and wildlife related environmental commitments that go above and beyond direct mitigation of project effects. The Plan builds upon commitments identified in the Conceptual Mitigation Plan proposed by NISP and included as an appendix in the Supplemental Draft EIS.

Fish and wildlife mitigation and enhancement plans are required under Colorado Revised Statutes section 37-60-122.2 for water projects requiring a federal permit.  The plans are developed by the project applicant, working in cooperation with Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff, and submitted to the Commission. If the Commission and applicant agree on the mitigation plan, the Commission forwards the mitigation plan to the Colorado Water Conservation Board for adoption as the official state position on the mitigation actions required of the applicant.


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NISP - Printable PDF Map
Printable PDF map shows NISP: two preferred alternative reservoirs, proposed U.S. 287 highway realignment and pipelines for ditch company water exchanges.
Click map to view it.

More NISP news
Photo Gallery
NISP Timeline 

NISP Overview
Brochure that provides an overview of NISP. Learn more»

What is NISP?

NISP Fact Sheet

NISP is a regional water supply project coordinated by Northern Water on behalf of 15 Northern Front Range water providers. Its goal is to provide participating water providers with approximately 40,000 acre-feet of new, reliable water supply each year.
At its most basic, NISP would store excess water currently leaving the state in years of abundance for use in meeting future water supply needs.
The proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project would include:

  • Glade Reservoir
  • South Platte Water Conservation Project (Galeton Reservoir)

Future site of Glade Reservoir northwest of Fort
Collins (view facing south)

How NISP Works
During wet times, when the Glade water right is in priority, the project will divert water at the existing Poudre Valley Canal near the mouth of Poudre Canyon. This will occur during periods of high flow, such as above average snowmelt years or during large rain events.

The maximum diversion rate would be limited to approximately 1,000 cubic foot per second. The Poudre Valley Canal will carry water to the Glade Forebay Reservoir, where it will be pumped up into Glade Reservoir. 

The South Platte Water Conservation Project and its Galeton Reservoir will operate as a key component of the Northern Integrated Supply Project.

South Platte water will be pumped to Galeton Reservoir during winter and spring months. During the irrigation season water will be released to the two largest ditch companies in the Poudre Basin – New Cache Irrigating and Larimer and Weld.

Through a series of exchanges the ditch companies will receive about one quarter of their total supply from Galeton Reservoir and its pipelines while a like amount of water will be diverted upstream at the Poudre Valley Canal and stored in Glade Reservoir.

When the SPWCP water rights are in priority, water will be diverted from the South Platte River for storage in Galeton Reservoir or for direct use from irrigation canals.

How NISP works: Click the arrow in this illustration to play the NISP animation.

Poudre Valley Canal
The water to fill Glade would be diverted from the Poudre River using the already existing Poudre Valley Canal. No new structures will be on the river and no project facilities would be built within the wild and scenic Poudre Canyon. The canal may be lined and improved to allow the NISP water to be carried into the Glade forebay reservoir.

South Platte Water Conservation Project (Galeton Reservoir)
Galeton Reservoir would be located east of Ault and northeast of Greeley. It would hold approximately 45,600 acre-feet of water at capacity.

The diversion at the South Platte River downstream of Greeley would have a pumping capacity of 200 cfs. Galeton water would be delivered to two agricultural irrigation companies (New Cache la Poudre Irrigating and Larimer and Weld) in exchange for a portion of the Poudre River water they currently use, which will be diverted into Glade Reservoir. This exchange would provide approximately 60 percent of the NISP yield and is water that has historically been diverted.

Glade Reservoir
This reservoir would be located northwest of Fort Collins along a current stretch of U.S. Highway 287 north of Ted’s Place (the intersection of Highway 287 and Highway 14). It would be approximately 5 miles long, 260 feet deep and have a capacity to store 170,000 acre-feet of water, or slightly larger than Horsetooth Reservoir, which holds about 156,000 acre-feet.
Proposed Glade Reservoir map NISP - Printable PDF Map
Printable PDF map shows NISP: two preferred alternative reservoirs, proposed U.S. 287 highway realignment and pipelines for ditch company water exchanges.
Click map to view it.

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 early 2018 with a final permit decision due in 2019.

 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
 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.

 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.

Documents & Maps

To view a map, click a map thumbnail image or title. 

Glade Reservoir Flyover
This short animation gives a bird's-eye view ofan artist's rendering of theproposed Glade Reservoir and the surrounding area.

NISP - Printable PDF Map
Printable PDF map shows NISP:two preferred alternative reservoirs,proposed U.S. 287 highway realignment and pipelines forditch company water exchanges.

Highway 287 Realignment
Map shows the proposed U.S. Highway 287 realignment if Glade Reservoir is built.

NISP Participants map NISP Participants
Map shows the 15 Northern Colorado NISP participants and their NISP allotment

NISP Information & Background

Environmental Review

NISP Brochures & Newsletters

Public Opinion Surveys: Strong NISP Support
Two public opinion surveys – taken five years apart – show continuing strong support for NISP:

Water Quality Studies Summarized
These documents summarize the Northern Integrated Supply Project studies conducted by Black & Veatch Corporation following questions raised by the City of Fort Collins and others in 2008 during the Draft Environmental Impact Statement comment period. These studies address issues associated with water quality in Horsetooth Reservoir and the Poudre River as well as at a defunct missile site north of the river.


Ag Water Quality and NISP
Maintaining water quality is an important component of the Northern Integrated Supply Project. To that end, the 15 NISP participants have utilized one of the nation’s foremost experts on agricultural water quality issues – Dr. Glenn Hoffman – to analyze water samples collected in the New Cache and Larimer and Weld canals and at the Kersey Gage on the South Platte River to predict future salinity levels after the implementation of NISP.

Dr. Hoffman found NISP will not impact farmer’s ability to grow crops and will not reduce yields. 

The Agricultural Water Quality Brochure describes general water quality information and defines commonly used water quality terminology. For further information please contact Amy Johnson at 970-292-2524 or

Other NISP Documents & Materials 


Media Coverage

NISP Contacts

For general information about NISP, contact:

Brian Werner
Public Affairs Coordinator
Direct line: 970-622-2229
Cell: 970-481-2927

Carl Brouwer
Project Manager
Direct line: 970-622-2298

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NISP Questions or Comments
If you have a question or comment about NISP, please complete the required fields below and click the Send button or e-mail either of the individuals listed on the left side of this page.

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NISP Participants

The 15 NISP participants include 11 fast-growing cities and towns and four water districts within the expanding Northern Front Range. 
Central Weld County Water District
Fort Collins - Loveland Water District
Fort Lupton
Fort Morgan
Left Hand Water District
Morgan County Quality Water District


NISP Participants' Map NISP Participants'Map
Map shows the 15 Northern Colorado NISP participants and their NISP allotments.
Click map to view it.


The NISP Partners
Glade Reservoir is truly regional in scope, offering benefits to the residents of Larimer, Weld, Boulder and Morgan counties. With that in mind, the 15 communities and water districts are partnering with Northern Water to build the project. The water providers in NISP are communities that are experiencing rapid growth. (See Figure 1  below.)

NISP Participant Letters of Support 

In addition, nearly 30 cities and towns will receive water through NISP:

Loveland Erie Wiggins Lafayette
Fort Collins Fort Lupton Weldona Erie
Windsor Windsor Orchard Niwot
Timnath Frederick Goodrich
Firestone Fort Morgan
Eaton Brush
Severance Hillrose
Kersey Snyder
Evans Log Lane Village

Partners to Pay NISP Costs
The partners are responsible for all costs to permit, design, construct and maintain NISP. A mixture of cash, bonds and low-interest loans will most likely finance the project, which is estimated at $500 million, or about $12,500 per acre foot of water.

It is an affordable option to meet future needs: an equivalent amount of Colorado-Big Thompson water is approximately $40,000 to $50,000 per acre foot, and many communities in the Front Range are paying much more for new water supplies. In addition, project construction would be phased, allowing the NISP partners to pay for the project on an as-needed basis.

Community Partners
As the goals of the project continue to evolve, Northern Water is committed to building new partnerships and enhancing existing ones. For example, the draft environmental impact statement references talks Northern Water is having with ditch companies that will enable better management of Poudre River flows and provide water at times that it historically hasn't been there. 
NISP Participants Cut Water Consumption by 30 percent
Sometimes saving just isn't enough. Reducing our need for water is good. Preparing for our future, though, is the right thing to do. According to the draft environmental impact statement, the 15 NISP participants are already taking their own lead in water conservation – collectively reducing their water consumption by more than 30 percent in the past 20 years.

 NISP Communities’ Water Conservation Efforts Brochure

Water Needs Will Nearly Triple
Yet, the NISP participants' water needs will nearly triple by 2030, meaning that even with their strong conservation efforts, they will need additional supplies.

Many of the participants already face water shortages during dry years and all will face shortages by 2025. Figure 3 (below) illustrates the cumulative water deficits to 2050.  

View larger graph

Learn From Region's Leaders in Conservation
Conservation will play an increasingly important role in Colorado's future, and all the NISP participants have water conservation programs already in place. Coupling progressive water conservation measures with storage represents the 21st century solution to meeting the region's water demands. Northern Water currently has an extensive conservation program.  Check out these other web sites that offer beneficial information about conserving water:

Colorado WaterWise Council
Northern Water and the NISP participants are participants in and supporters of this council.

Northern Colorado Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Water Conservation Workgroup
Northern Water and the NISP participants are participants and supports of this council.

Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense Program 
Northern Water is a promotional partner with the EPA for its WaterSense Program, which promotes and enhances the market for water-efficient products and services.

Irrigation Association
Northern Water participates in various IA activities, and Northern Water staff members teach IA courses for landscapers and others. 

 View larger graph 

South Platte Water Conservation Project

Water exchanges that will help protect agriculture and bring much-needed water storage to the region

Sustaining our region’s robust agriculture industry and developing ways to store more water that will meet our array of growing demands are equally vital to the future of Northern Colorado.
That’s why Northern Water is working with farmers and the 15 water providers participating in the Northern Integrated Supply Project, in a collaborative effort to ensure the success of both.

As part of NISP, Northern Water and the participants are engaging with willing shareholders in the New Cache and Larimer-Weld Irrigation Company systems, to utilize a portion of their senior water rights in exchange for water from Galeton Reservoir.

This series of exchanges – done under what’s called the South Platte Water Conservation Project – would allow Glade Reservoir to fill in a timely manner for the communities in need of that water.


Creating a win-win for the farmers

In return, the NISP participants will compensate any farmers whose water rights are utilized in these exchanges. That compensation will come in the form of:

• Monetary payments
• Additional water supplies from the nearby Galeton Reservoir
• Ditch-system improvements

This series of exchanges is designed to serve as a win-win for the farmers, in that: 

• Farmers maintain total ownership of their water rights and water continues flowing to the farms 
• Compensation from NISP participants will enhance the long-term viability of these operations
• Farmers will have access to water later in the growing season, with supplies in Galeton Reservoir
• These exchanges would not be subject to change-of- use cases in water court
• Non-participating shares in the ditch systems would not be impacted


SPWCP Fact Sheet.  

Center Pivot

The ideal alternative to “buy-and-dry”

The South Platte Water Conservation Project is not only a critical piece in the region’s much-needed NISP efforts, but is also an ideal alternative to the ongoing buy-and-dry trend that’s taking farms out of production.

According to the Statewide Water Supply Initiative Report, the rate at which cities were buying agricultural water supplies in the South Platte Basin – Colorado’s most agriculturally productive area – left the region on pace to see 180,000 to 267,000 acres of irrigated farmland dry up by 2050.

A farmer’s water rights are not only extremely important to the farm’s operations and vital for our local food supply, but are often deeply embedded in the family’s history, and we want to help preserve that legacy.

Water quality questions addressed 

Some farmers have asked about the quality of South Platte River water in comparison to the Poudre River supplies they currently use.

Water quality and agronomy experts have thoroughly examined this, with the results showing water quality would have no impact on crops in nearly all anticipated operating conditions, and only very minor impacts on specific crops in rare instances.

NISP participants would certainly factor any such impacts on crops into compensation packages, and Northern Water will also continue monitoring water quality long into the future to address any potential issues.

Furthermore, there are many farmers who irrigate with South Platte water – from Commerce City to the state line at Julesburg – and don’t experience negative impacts on their crops due to water quality issues.

Contact Us

We are more than willing to share with farmers any data pertaining to this project, and we want to do everything we can to alleviate any concerns.  

We encourage anyone who wants to learn more to contact Greg Dewey, a water resources engineer at Northern Water, at (970) 622-2300, or email him at