Project History

The Windy Gap Firming Project has been reviewed under the federal National Environmental Policy Act. This review started in 2003. NEPA and Colorado's requirement for a plan focused on fish and wildlife are among several processes in place to identify mitigation measures that will address the project's impacts.

Project Milestones

2003: Project participants enter the federal permitting process and Reclamation holds three formal "scoping" meetings

2005: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation published two reports, one describing the purpose and need, and one identifying a range of alternatives that could meet the needs

2008: Reclamation publishes the Draft Environmental Impact Statement

2009: Municipal Subdistrict offers West Slope benefits to facilitate project implementation

2011: State officials approve the fish and wildlife mitigation plan  and voluntary enhancement plan

2011: Reclamation publishes the Final Environmental Impact Statement

2012: Grand County and the Municipal Subdistrict board approve agreements to create improvements to the Colorado River

2014: Reclamation issues its Record of Decision and signs a carriage contract to transport water to Chimney Hollow Reservoir

2016: Colorado issues a 401 Water Quality Certification

2017: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues its final Record of Decision

Windy Gap History

The Original Windy Gap Project

The Windy Gap Project was first proposed in 1967 by the cities of Boulder, Estes Park, Fort Collins, Greeley, Longmont and Loveland. Built between 1981 and 1985 and located on the West Slope near Granby, Windy Gap consists of a diversion dam on the Colorado River, a pump plant and a 6-mile pipeline to Lake Granby, the largest storage reservoir in the Colorado-Big Thompson Project system.

The Windy Gap Firming Project will improve the reliability of, or firm, water supplies from the original Windy Gap Project, which started delivering water in 1985. It was understood the original Windy Gap Project would require additional storage to achieve firm water supplies. 

Historic Mitigation

The original Windy Gap Project included years of efforts to determine mitigation measures for direct project impacts, in addition to negotiations for voluntary enhancements. The resulting mitigation measures included funding to benefit endangered fish species as well as water and wastewater treatment facilities.

Voluntary enhancements included a $10.2 million payment to the West Slope in lieu of building Azure Reservoir as well as water supplies for the Middle Park Water Conservancy District.

Additional mitigation included:

  • Endangered species fish mitigation
  • Rancher diversion improvements - upgrades and new pumps
  • Upgrades to Hot Sulphur Springs water and wastewater facilities
  • Salinity studies on the Colorado River
  • Construction of wildlife islands in Windy Gap Reservoir
  • Construction of the Windy Gap Watchable Wildlife Area