OP ED Glade Reservoir: Shouldn’t We Consider Every Possible Alternative Before Flooding 1600 Acres of a Relatively Pristine Valley?

A coalition of agricultural groups announced their support today for Proposition DD, which asks voters this fall to tax casinos’ sports-betting profits to help conserve and protect the state’s water supplies

By Jan Rothe

I am opposed to the building of Glade Reservoir (an off-channel reservoir which will be located about 1/2 mile north of Ted’s Place) for many reasons.  Here are just a couple. First, Glade Reservoir, which is part of the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), will be an enormous undertaking, which will include flooding 1600 acres of a relatively pristine valley, moving 7 miles of federal highway, installing 85 miles of water pipeline, digging a 2,000 acre foot forebay, building a visitor center, paving parking lots for up to 500 cars, and building a 30,000 horsepower electrical pumping station to transfer water from the forebay up and over a 280 foot dam.  The price tag for this massive project is currently estimated at 1.2 billion dollars, but will undoubtedly continue to rise.

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Who will pay for this?  Well, 12% of the cost will be paid by existing water customers living in the 11 municipalities and the 4 water districts benefitting from NISP – places such as Windsor, Daconos, Erie, Severance, Evans, Eaton, Firestone, Lafayette, Fort Morgan, Fort Lupton and Frederick. The other 88% will be passed on as a “water resource fee” to all new homes built in those places.  This approach will force all of those cities to grow, or else current customers will be stuck paying the huge NISP bill. What if projected growth numbers stall or are never realized? And do we really want to continue on the path of this huge growth surge along the Front Range of Colorado?

 

Second, reservoirs in general are incredibly inefficient ways to store water.  Every year, they lose huge amounts of water to evaporation and seepage. For instance, in the Colorado River Basin about 500 billion gallons of water evaporate each year from Lake Mead and Lake Powell.  Not to mention the inefficiency of pumping water up and over a 280 foot high dam with a 30,000 horsepower electrical pumping station. Global warming is real and we live in a semi-arid environment – we don’t have water or electricity to waste!  

 

There are many less expensive, less environmentally damaging, and far more efficient alternatives to Glade. Conservation should always be the first choice for people living in a semi-arid environment.  But, what about water-fallowing contracts between municipal and agricultural users, or improving the efficiency of agricultural water use? Another part of the solution could be aquifer storage and recovery, which is a relatively new, inexpensive technology for storing water being used successfully around the country in places like Denver, and San Diego.  Aquifer storage can be built in increments, so that as towns grow, so can their water storage.  

Shouldn’t we consider every possible alternative before we spend huge amounts of money and forever damage our beautiful Poudre River and incredible landscapes by building ridiculously expensive, out-of-date dams and reservoirs?  We need to be good stewards of our natural resources, not squander them needlessly! If you agree, please visit the saveruralnoco.com website and sign the petition asking Larimer County Commissioners to deny NISP’s 1041 permit.  Thank you!