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Fort Collins City Council opposes new damming of Poudre River

Fort Collins City Council voted Tuesday night to oppose the creation of the Glade Reservoir north of Fort Collins near Highway 14, part of the Northern Integrated Supply Project.

NISP was originally proposed in 2008 by the Army Corps of Engineers and was unanimously opposed by city council. It was re-proposed this year with an updated environmental impact statement, and was opposed again, although conditionally.

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Greg Speer, board member of the Save the Poudre organization, said even though the Army Corps of Engineers will make the final decision, he thinks the council’s opposition will be a deciding factor.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that when the council unanimously voted against NISP the first time, the Army Corps took notice,” Speer said.

The NISP program planned to contain up to 71 percent of the Poudre River’s flow in the proposed Glade Reservoir, which would be about 20 percent larger than Horsetooth Reservoir when full. The program was designed by the Army Corps of Engineers to combat the growing water shortage and predicted growth in Northern Colorado, but the Fort Collins City Council was dissatisfied.

Concerns about the program include economic loss due to lower river levels and water quality. According to Environment Colorado, the state of Colorado saw $18 billion spent on tourism in the past year, with over 16 million visitors, 662,601 fishing licenses sold and 83,683 registered boats.

Vivian Nguyen, an organizer with Environment Colorado, said in a press release that water levels and quality are central to Fort Collins culture.

“Our rivers and lakes are a big part of what makes summer fun,” Nguyen said. “There’s nothing quite like rafting down the Cache La Poudre River or fishing at Horsetooth Reservoir to cool off on a hot day.”

A lack of moderate water flow, called “flushing flows,” was also discussed by the council. Director of the Natural Resources Department John Stokes said he believes low water flow could be detrimental to the health of the river and lead to flooding.

“John Stokes is an incredible diplomat, and he is very kind to NISP, but as it stands the project is unacceptable,” Speer said. “It appears the updated environmental statement is not an improvement on the original.”

The council passed the motion to oppose NISP as it stands, under the condition that it may be revisited if modified.

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Stokes said in his closing remarks he hopes for a more sustainable water use plan in the future.

“We need to be asking ourselves if a vision for Poudre River health is possible,” Stoke said.

More information on NISP can be found on the Fort Collins website.

Collegian City Beat Reporter Rachel Musselmann can be reached online at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @rmusselmann. 

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