NISP and its SDEIS: 2015’s summer disaster movie

Wockner

You are fighting for the biggest nothing in history.”

– Hubert de Marais, “Apocalypse Now”

We’re at 12 years and counting on the proposal to build the disastrous Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), a huge proposed dam and reservoir that would further drain and destroy the Cache la Poudre River. Just a few weeks ago, we saw the end of the public comment period for the project’s Supplement Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS), which was another gory scene in this long-running disaster movie. You’d think the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is charged with the permitting process and the SDEIS for the project, would have done a better job, but, alas, they completely dropped the ball again after another seven years of study and millions of dollars spent.

Save The Poudre had a team of 34 scientists and attorneys review the SDEIS, and here are what we identified as its Top 10 Fatal Flaws:

1. The SDEIS for NISP completely fails to fully analyze the environmental impacts of further draining and destroying the Poudre through Fort Collins, including impacts to wetlands, fish, forest health along the river, and threatened and endangered wildlife.

2. The SDEIS fails to adequately analyze water quality impacts in the Poudre River and does not include a full water quality analysis.

3. The “No Action Alternative” in the SDEIS is completely flawed and will have to be completely redone.

4. The SDEIS dismisses water conservation as a viable strategy for NISP participants, and dismisses alternatives that focus on water conservation.

5. The proposed mitigation plan is completely inadequate and completely fails to address the loss of peak flows in the Poudre River.

6. NISP does not have enough water rights to fill and operate the proposed Glade and Galeton reservoirs and will have to rely on buying water from farmers, an impact that is not analyzed in the SDEIS.

7. Dozens of operating or planned oil and gas wells are under the footprint of the proposed Galeton Reservoir; NISP would likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars more than advertised because it will have to buy out, move or redrill the wells.

8. The farmers that must trade their cleaner Poudre River water with NISP in order to fill and operate Glade and Galeton reservoirs have not agreed to the trade, and the SDEIS does not adequately inform them that they could get water from Galeton Reservoir that could be highly polluted including from oil/gas/fracking chemicals.

9. The SDEIS says the Poudre already is on a “declining trajectory” of health and cannot be saved, whereas all other experts – and the proponent of the project, Northern Water – disagree.

10. NISP would increase flooding along the Poudre through Fort Collins and all the way out through Greeley.

Nothing can be done to fix this project or the SDEIS. That’s why we told the Army Corps that the SDEIS had to be completely redone. Further, that’s why we continue to tell the project proponent, Northern Water, and all of the 15 small towns who hope to get water from the project that they should drop NISP altogether. By continuing down this disastrous path, they are throwing millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money down an abyss from which no water will ever be developed.

Repeatedly now for over a decade, Save The Poudre has told Northern Water and the NISP participants that they should focus on alternatives to NISP that are faster, cheaper, and easier to implement including water conservation and efficiency, water reuse and recycling, better growth management, and working with farmers to get new water. Repeatedly now for over a decade, Save the Poudre has said we will fight to protect the Poudre and stop NISP for as long as it takes.

But it’s like they don’t believe us. Maybe 10 years ago, you didn’t believe us. Maybe five years ago, you weren’t so sure. We’re still here and we’re not going away. Believe us.

You’re fighting for, and spending millions of dollars on, the biggest nothing in Northern Colorado history.

Gary Wockner is executive director of Save The Poudre. Contact him at gary.wockner@savethepoudre.org.

Wockner

You are fighting for the biggest nothing in history.”

– Hubert de Marais, “Apocalypse Now”

We’re at 12 years and counting on the proposal to build the disastrous Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), a huge proposed dam and reservoir that would further drain and destroy the Cache la Poudre River. Just a few weeks ago, we saw the end of the public comment period for the project’s Supplement Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS), which was another gory scene in this long-running disaster movie. You’d think the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is charged with the permitting process and the SDEIS for the project, would have done a better job, but, alas, they completely dropped the ball again after another seven years of study and millions of dollars spent.

Save The Poudre had a team of 34 scientists and attorneys review the SDEIS, and here are what we identified as its Top 10 Fatal Flaws:

1. The SDEIS for NISP completely fails to fully analyze the environmental impacts of further draining and destroying the Poudre through Fort Collins, including impacts to wetlands, fish, forest health along the river, and threatened and endangered wildlife.

2. The SDEIS fails to adequately analyze water quality impacts in the Poudre River and does not include a full water quality analysis.