Greeley City Council members unanimously voted Tuesday, March 2, to approve an agreement for Terry Ranch’s acquisition.
Council took two actions: a resolution to approve the closing of the purchase of the water and legal rights necessary to develop the water in the underground storage, such as service use easement and a lease to joining lands and water. The other was an ordinance that changed the city code to accept raw water credits for purchase.
The project involves aquifer storage and recovery project to add 1.2 million acre-feet of water to the City’s current water storage. The project would evolve as time progresses to be utilized as a back-up drought supply in addition to a long-term water storage benefit.
“Some of the biggest pros are that it is suitable for water storage and that we wouldn’t be buying it just to mine the groundwater; we are buying it as a location that we can store water underground,” said Adam Jokerst, Deputy Director of Water and Sewer for the City of Greeley. “We will be able to use the water that is already there, and at some point in the future, we will inject water underground and store it for later just like an underground storage reservoir,” Adam said.
This project came as an alternative to enlarging the Milton Seaman Reservoir above Fort Collins after the federal government required the city to look for other options. Terry Ranch water currently contains uranium. While the City plans to clean the water before its residents utilize it, groups of concerned citizens are joining forces to stop the project.
One local group concerned with the project is Save Greeley’s Water, which consists of engineers, scientists, water professionals, environmentalists, and activists worried about maintaining the City’s existing water system to benefit Greeley’s water customers. The group aims to recognize, address and defeat the Terry Ranch Master Agreement signed by the Greeley Water & Sewer Board on Wednesday, June 17 of last year.
“Save Greeley’s Water is opposed to this deal on the grounds that the water is contaminated with uranium, has the potential of contamination from fracking, and is in the path of a trichloroethylene (TCE) spill from an Atlas Missile site in Wyoming that has already contaminated water wells near Cheyenne, WY and appears to be heading SE toward the Terry Ranch,” said John Gauthiere of Save Greeley’s Water and Gauthiere Engineering Inc. “I believe it may be a little arrogant and foolish for the City Staff and its consultants to assume that Terry Ranch groundwater would be a good long term water source without significant risk for Greeley Water Customers,” John said.
The next step for the project involves closing on the purchase by the City of Greeley. Outreach and education on the project will be continued by the city as well.