We can provide all of the water proposed to be stored in Glade, and more, at a lower financial and environmental cost, through straightforward and proven conservation techniques, improved demand management and water use efficiency by municipal and industrial users, and with very modest improvements in agricultural water use efficiency. These include:
• Tiered water rates that reward conservation with lower costs to customers who conserve.
• Comprehensive public education and awareness programs about quick-payback water conservation measures.
• Rebate/retrofit programs for low-water use landscaping, low-water-use toilets, shower heads, washing machines and dishwashers.
• Water fallowing contracts between municipal, industrial, and agricultural users, with investments in agricultural water conservation and water use efficiency in return for use of agricultural water.
• Use Growth-Displaced Water Transfers, i.e., transfer water rights from lands developed by growing communities to the communities needing water.
• Landscape irrigation monitoring and improvement programs to reduce water wasted in excessive irrigation.
• Reduce consumptive use on irrigated acreages and improve the efficiency of agricultural return flows to provide transferable water for other uses.
• Use of gray-water systems and interfacing gray-water systems with water recycling systems wherever possible.
Save The Poudre, in partnership with Western Resource Advocates, has developed an alternative to the destructive NISP/Glade Reservoir proposal that would supply the same amount of water for the growing municipalities at a fraction of the cost and environmental damage. Our report may be found here, and a summary may be found here.
For more information, please refer to a new report by Western Resource Advocates: A Better Future for the Poudre River. This report outlines a common-sense approach to increase the Front Range's water supply faster, with far less harm to the environment, and with much less controversy than typical mega-storage water projects have faced in the past. You may also be interested in a broader look at satisfying our region's water needs as described a recent report by Western Resource Advocates, Trout Unlimited and the Colorado Environmental Coalition: Filling the Gap: Commonsense Solutions for Meeting Front Range Water Needs. (Please note that Save The Poudre will not endorse any project until all of the project's impacts are fully described and properly compared with a full array of alternatives.) In addition, Smart Savings: Water Conservation Measures that Make Cents, also by WRA, provides water utility managers and the public with information that can be utilized to gauge the likely effectiveness of a variety of water conservation measures.
The Healthy Rivers Alternative in a Nutshell
SaveThePoudre and others looked closely at the applicants "preferred alternative" as outlined in the draft EIS. We found the projections of regional population growth -- and attendant supposed water needs -- to be highly inflated, and suspect. Using our own carefully collected data, we significantly revised the regional growth projections downwards as compared to NISP DEIS. Starting with these more realistic population estimates and using real-world examples of modest water conservation, we next revised the water conservation savings that could be achieved. Together, our revised estimates of population growth and consumption let us realistically project true regional water needs. Using these more realistic data, our analysis suggests that the actual water needs of the participant communities are significantly lower than portrayed in the DEIS.
Knowing the true water needs, SaveThePoudre designed a water supply and storage option that does not drain the Poudre River or require Glade Reservoir. In many ways, what we have outlined is similar to the draft EIS's 'No Action' alternative, just more realistically portrayed. Looked at in a new light, the No Action Alternative, coupled with our Healthy Rivers Alternative paradigm, allowed us to create an alternative that is considerably cheaper than NISP and protects what is left of the Poudre River. One key to our alternative's cost effectiveness is a 'pay-as-you-go' financing rather than the enormous costs of a huge upfront debt-ridden project.
In short, the Healthy Rivers Alternative costs less than NISP, better protects agriculture in northern Colorado, much better protects the Cache la Poudre River, and is truly the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative (LEDPA) that is required by the Clean Water Act. For more on the Healthy Rivers Alternative, please see http://savethepoudre.org/eis-comments.html.
Alternatives - When and If Storage is Actually Needed
SaveThePoudre recognizes that, in the future, some additional water storage options may be necessary. However, we believe that storage would be far better achieved by utilizing the following mechanisms, in order:
1. Existing Reservoirs and Gravel Pits
2. Expansion/Dredging of Existing Reservoirs and Gravel Pits
3. New Gravel Pits
4. Potential Aquifer Storage
We can and we will better protect Colorado's water resources!