Picketers protest pipeline

Oct 222007
Authors: Aaron Hedge, Erik Myers

Picketers gathered outside the Clark Building Monday to protest plans for a water pipeline that would run through several parcels of private property in LaPorte. The project received approval from the Larimer County Planning Commission late Wednesday night, which kick-started the final phase of planning.

Protesters gathered outside of Clark prior to a special in-class lecture on integrated water resource planning at CSU by a Greeley Water & Sewer Department (GWSD) representative, Sean Cronin.

The new pipeline will run from Bellvue’s water treatment plant, through Laporte, and connect to the existing pipeline under Shields Street.

Greeley officials have yet to set specifics on the location of the pipe, but have established a corridor that crosses the Poudre River and intersect with the Stout-Rex Railroad line.

Protesters say that the pipeline will spur a mess of problems. Environmentalists say the pipeline would disrupt the natural water flow of the Poudre River, saying the water level would be drained. This drain could be detrimental to the established wildlife habitats of the river.

“This is going to spoil what they’ve tried to conserve for 30 years,” said Mary Humstone, a Laporte resident and protest organizer.

Humstone said the pipeline would be counterproductive to the conservation efforts made by residents and city officials.

The historical environment could also be affected; the Stout-Rex Railroad, which protesters claim as historic, could be altered or destroyed entirely. Individual landowners whose land falls within have expressed concern that their private property will be affected.

Humstone said the department did not contact them before they decided to run the pipe through her and her husband’s property.

“The only way we know about it is that our neighbor caught some surveyors trespassing on her property,” Humstone said.

Robert Helmik, the principal planner of Larimer County’s Planning Commission, said the Commission’s approval came with conditions, asking that city officials work with area individuals and take the necessary steps to minimize environmental damage.

Though such conditions are not requirements, Project Manager Dan Moore said the city planned to follow through.

While a basic corridor for which the pipeline will run through has been chosen, Moore said, individuals needs will be taken into consideration before construction takes place.

“Our next step is working with the individual landowners to get more specific on the pipeline location,” Moore said.

In addressing environmental concerns, Moore says that the project would have to go through a number of environmental loops before construction could begin, including it’s own personal assessment.

“We’ve evaluated where the most stunned areas (of the pipeline corridor) would be,” Moore said. “For example, in our (Poudre) crossing we’re going to try to make it the most direct crossing possible to avoid some of those issues that could come up working,”

GWSD officials will be seeking a 404 permit from the U.S. Army Core of Engineers before construction, which will establish federal approval to minimize the amount of environmental damage that could occur.

“They will review our plan to make sure it’s consistent with all of the environmental concerns,” Moore said.

Moore added that river drains caused by previous Poudre-pipeline intersections have never been permanent, citing a specific spot as example.

“This isn’t exactly new charted territory,” Moore said. “We’ve crossed the Poudre River before and done so very successfully near Windsor, and that area has certainly grown back to its near normal state.”

Senior reporters Aaron Hedge and Erik Myers can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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