What you need to know about NISP and its current progress
The Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) continues flowing forward despite the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The region, especially along the Front Range, is growing at a rapid pace. This means new customers in the Fort Collins-Loveland Water District, as well as in other water provider’s service areas. Currently, our District receives water from the North Poudre Irrigation Company, Colorado-Big Thompson project, Josh Ames, Divide Canal and Reservoir Company and Windsor Reservoir Company. While these sources allow us to meet current demand, by 2032 we will need an additional 8,000 acre-feet of water for our expanding service area. To close the anticipated gap, we’re looking to other water source options, which include participation in NISP.
Led by Northern Water, NISP will bring two new reservoirs to Northern Colorado, providing 15 Northern Front Range water suppliers with 40,000 acre-feet of new, reliable water supplies. NISP is a huge $1.1 billion project for our region that will positively impact 11 Front Range communities. As you can imagine, a project of this size doesn’t happen overnight and requires a lot of paperwork, as well as extensive collaboration and communication between the water providers, community members, and federal, state and local governments. Here’s the latest on where the project is at:
Colorado 401 Water Quality Certification
Currently, the state issued a 401 Water Quality Certification permit in late January, which verifies compliance with existing water quality requirements or waives the certification requirement. The Colorado 401 Water Quality Certification is required as part of the federal permitting process through Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, and its issuance serves as an important milestone for the project. State officials notified Northern Water leaders about the decision via a letter received January 28, 2020. That certification has been challenged and will go before the State Water Quality Commission this November.
The 1041 Permit under the Larimer County Land Use Code applications process has been filed for NISP. This permit process entails a series of public hearings where the community has an opportunity to weigh in on the project. Under the County’s land use code, the permit is required for approval of Northern Tier, Poudre Delivery/Intake and County Line raw water lines as well as the water storage reservoir (Glade Reservoir) including recreation facilities and other appurtenant facilities to both the pipelines and the reservoir.
In June, the County Planning Commission held public hearings. Public testimony began on July 8 with remote and in-person testimony. In August, NISP will go before the County Commissioners. On Monday, Aug. 17, 24 and 31 at 6 p.m. the public will have the opportunity to speak for two minutes each at the County Commissioner’s hearings at 200 W. Oak St., hearing Room, 1st Floor. For more information on these hearings and how to participate, visit the County’s website, which has more details.
By participating in this regional water supply project, we can ensure Fort Collins-Loveland Water District is included in a collaborative long-range strategy that ensures our water is secure for the future. Because most of this water source is intended to supply growth in the communities we serve, it will be paid primarily with tap fees that developers pay when they build new homes and commercial buildings in our communities—not by current District customers.
Why you should care about NISP
Colorado is a great place to live, work and raise a family. But none of that is possible without water. If we want our children to enjoy this great state as much as we do, then we need to take action today to ensure that the future has safe, secure and clean water.
You should care about NISP if you care about the future of water security in northern Colorado. NISP offers a long-term solution by balancing the water supply with a number of environmental considerations. After more than 15 years of working with environmental advocates, this project improves base and peak flow conditions, fish passage, habitat improvements and more as part of the Fish and Wildlife Mitigation and Enhancement Plan.
Although Fort Collins-Loveland Water District has a number of robust conservation programs in place to reduce usage, we still need to add water resources to our portfolio. This collaborative, long-term regional water supply project is the best option to secure water for our future and our children’s futures. Other alternatives have proven too expensive or impactful to other users, such as agriculture.
Farmers faced with a scarcity of water have to fallow fields in order to supply thirsty communities. In fact, without NISP, 64,000 acres of farmland would need to be dried up to meet the 40,000 acre-feet the project will provide to our communities.
But it’s not just about the water that comes out of your tap, the project will also open up a lot of fun water recreation possibilities. If you’ve spent any time in Colorado, you know people love playing near or in water. Just take a drive by Horsetooth Reservoir on any summer weekend and you will see people out fishing, swimming and boating and enjoying the beautiful bodies of water we have available in our backyard. NISP will add more recreational opportunities to the region, including 1,600 new surface acres. These additional improvements benefit everyone living here, not just customers.
Colorado is a great place to live, and more people will continue to move here to enjoy everything our beautiful state has to offer. NISP ensures that we will have the water to meet those new demands. To learn more about NISP and get involved, visit https://fclwd.com/water/nisp/.