Energy, Utilities & Water  February 7, 2022

Editorial: Water district’s tap moratorium requires further explanation

The North Weld County Water District hasn’t exactly been popular lately among certain constituents in Severance, Eaton and other communities within its service area.

The district imposed a moratorium on new taps last September, prompting the town of Severance to impose a moratorium on new building permits — a move that has affected hundreds of planned homes. Eaton also has what the town administrator calls an “effective moratorium,” with builders essentially told not to bother submitting while North Weld’s tap moratorium is in place.

North Weld initially blamed the 1041 regulatory process in Fort Collins and Larimer County, which could potentially delay the NEWT III pipeline, which would run for 5.3 miles from North Timberline Road eastward into Weld County. Fort Collins allowed NEWT to proceed, but Larimer County has yet to weigh in on the project.

North Weld’s tap moratorium has been extended until May, but District Manager Eric Reckentine told BizWest that he is recommending a partial lifting of the moratorium to the North Weld board, with a decision expected Feb. 14. But he won’t say how many taps might be authorized.

In the meantime, North Weld will install flow-control devices on meters of agricultural and commercial users to curb use of excess water by entities that currently pay a surcharge for exceeding their water allotment.

The reason cited for this measure is drought, with the district saying that it is in an extreme drought situation.

The 1041 process and drought certainly constitute concerning factors for North Weld, with drought affecting virtually every resident and community in Colorado.

But neither issue fully explains why the district was forced to impose a tap moratorium. Residential growth has been exponential for years, much of it concentrated in communities such as Severance, Windsor, Timnath and other communities within the North Weld district. (Timnath and Windsor have other water providers as well.)

At the same time, dairies have expanded rapidly to serve the Leprino cheese plant in Greeley and account for about one-third of the district’s water use.

The point is, none of this has been a surprise. What’s been a surprise is that North Weld suddenly found itself unable to meet demand for water taps.

1041 regulations and drought aside, the reasons for that realization need to be explored. North Weld, a public entity, owes its constituents a full explanation of how it got into this situation, and how it will address it.

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