“Whiskey’s for drinkin’ and water’s for fightin’.” The words uttered by my professor earlier this semester seem to linger in my head as though just spoken. Never has this old saying taken on such meaning and vigor than here and now. You may not drink whiskey, but you are in the middle of an H2O war that has stretched across generations with no end in sight; Glade Reservoir is just one small battle.
The need for the construction of this reservoir is beyond debate. It must happen to ensure the needs of smaller towns around our area.
Glade Reservoir, also known as the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), if given the go ahead, will be constructed just north of town on Highway 287, starting as soon as 2012. The reservoir project is the combined efforts of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District along with 13 Northern Front Range municipalities and water districts.
The NISP water is meant to meet the needs of the growing populations in the aforementioned areas for a projected 50 years. The reservoir will be much larger than Horsetooth Reservoir and, as such, will yield much more water.
In terms of damaging ecosystems, a reservoir is a first-class seat on a one-way flight to complete devastation. That single point can sum up exactly why many have a very skeptical view of the NISP. Considering that, we must look at every angle to assure that a $370 million project (as estimated by the NISP Phase 2 Alternative Evaluation which will be paid by the participants) is worth the proverbial bloodshed that is soon to follow.
The NISP has been looking into this for some time now, analyzing some 200 options, which included current reservoir expansions, ground water usage and agricultural conservation. After years of research and public meetings, the NISP has decided to go ahead with the new reservoir as the best option for addressing increasing water demands of the participants in this project.
A couple of reasons can be identified for this conclusion.
The municipalities currently attached to this (Eaton, Erie, Evans and Fort Lupton just to name a few) have been in an annexation battle (the process of incorporating territory into a city or town) that has rivaled Fort Collins and Loveland. This process creates urban sprawl, and in doing so, creates an obligation by these towns to provide much more water then they have had to in the past.
Also, Carl Brouwer of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District told the North Forty News “that without the additional storage, water districts and cities would continue to buy up water rights resulting in ‘20,000 acres of dry up,’ a trend that has been continuing for several years.”
Next, according to savethepoudre.com, the reservoir will create rapid growth in these areas and lead to the depletion of our agricultural heritage. What the Web site does not address is the fact that the northern Front Range population is exploding with or without Glade.
The Water Supplies and Demands for Participants report shows an increase in population from 77,000 persons in 1990 to 163,000 persons in 2003. The report goes on to show a “substantial increase” in water demands over the next 50 years, making Glade invaluable to the growth of these communities and the Front Range.
Glade Reservoir is not a cure to our water problems by any means; this type of thing is destined to plague our future unless water conservation becomes our No. 1 priority. Fort Collins and Greeley are planning to expand the reservoirs that provide their water, making us as a town no different.
Not allowing the 13 municipalities to go through with this (as if we have that much say anyway) is selfish and hypocritical on our part. We are all guilty of using water and having an impact on water supplies. I suggest we look at our own water usage and development before we tell others what to do with theirs.
Kevin Dudley is a senior natural resources major. His column appears every Wednesday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to email@example.com.