Shut off: Thornton pipeline plan fails test

Larimer County officials call for alternatives, neighborhood outreach

Posted 8/6/18

Thornton officials will go back to the drawing board after Larimer officials tabled their plan to build a 22-mile pipeline to help bring water to the city. Larimer County Commissioners said that …

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Shut off: Thornton pipeline plan fails test

Larimer County officials call for alternatives, neighborhood outreach

Posted

Thornton officials will go back to the drawing board after Larimer officials tabled their plan to build a 22-mile pipeline to help bring water to the city.

Larimer County Commissioners said that Thornton had not done enough to work with residents living along the planned route of the pipeline at their Aug. 1 meeting and tabled the discussion until Dec. 17.

“People in Larimer County want to be at the table and they want to be involved, even if everybody is not happy with the result,” Commission Chair Steve Johnson said. “They deserve to be heard.”

Commissioners also said they were not sure that Thornton officials had considered other ways to bring the water to the city.

“I’m still coming away thinking that there has to be a different, less impactful way of doing this,” Commissioner Lew Gaiter said.

Gaiter said he does not want to stop Thornton from getting the water.

“Thornton has a right to this water and your citizens have the right to get it and I don’t want to deny them that water,” he said. “However, my job is not to protect the citizens of Thornton. My job is to protect the citizens of Larimer County.”

Thornton Public Information Officer Todd Barnes said that city staff would be redoubling efforts to meet with Larimer County residents between now and the Dec. 17 meeting.

“We heard in no uncertain terms that they want more community outreach and we are moving in that direction even as we speak,” Barnes said.

Staff is developing it this week.

“We have a team in place to reach out and give everybody their chance to weigh in with suggestions and concerns,” Barnes said.

Barnes said staff is not starting over, however.

“We have a lot of research, a lot of facts and a lot of knowledge about different ways to get our water down to Thornton,” Barnes said. “We will use that when we engage with the residents of Larimer County who provide us feedback.”

It was the third meeting that Larimer County Commission had set to review Thornton’s plans since July 9. Hundreds of residents opposed to the project attended that meeting and a second on July 23.

Opponents of the plan fall into two groups: a group of neighbors who consider the project a nuisance and a group defending the Cache La Poudre River that runs through Fort Collins.

Water supply

The pipeline would be designed to bolster the city’s water supply through 2065. Thornton’s population is currently estimated at 136,574 and the city expects its current water supply able to serve only 158,000 residents.

A new water supply is needed to provide for predicted growth up to 242,0000 residents by 2065, according to the executive summary for a permit request submitted by the city of the Thornton.

The water in question has been diverted from the Cache La Poudre River to a reservoir since the 1800s. The city bought water right shares from Water Supply and Storage Company in the mid-1980s but has left the water there.

Thornton began working on the plan in 2016, filing a request for a permit to allow the city to build a pipeline, bringing the water south from Larimer County to Thornton.

Thornton’s proposed 48-inch pipeline would run for 26 miles through Larimer County and 45 miles in Weld County and would transport 40 million gallons of water per day.

Beginning near the intersection of State Road 1 and Larimer County’s Douglas Road, the pipeline would follow Douglas Road east to about Colorado Boulevard, Larimer County’s boundary with Weld County.

From there, it would continue south, leaving Larimer County near Johnstown and continuing south to Thornton. The city also plans to build a pump station near the reservoir and water tank capable of holding one million gallons. The total cost is estimated at $435 million.

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