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Two CO water supply projects will be evaluated separately

Published Jan. 16, 2015

LITTLETON, Co. - The Omaha District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has determined that the Halligan and Seaman water supply projects will be separated and independently evaluated as the Halligan Water Supply Project Environmental Impact Statement and the Seaman Water Supply Project EIS. Previously, USACE was preparing one combined EIS for the two projects.

USACE has completed its analysis of the purpose and need for the two projects. Alternatives to the Halligan project have been identified and USACE is evaluating the impacts of those alternatives. However, the City of Greeley has expressed concerns about USACE-identified alternatives to the Seaman project. Addressing these concerns would also delay evaluating the Fort Collins’ Halligan project. Several contributing factors including the differing study schedules led Fort Collins and Greeley to request that the two projects be separated and independently evaluated. USACE carefully considered the request and determined that it is appropriate and in the best interest of all involved to independently evaluate them as two separate projects. Although needed storage has decreased, the scopes of the two projects and the issues identified in the initial scoping process remain essentially the same. Therefore, additional public scoping meetings are not required.

As two separate projects, the USACE anticipates the completion and release of the Draft Halligan Water Supply EIS during the spring of 2016. Release of the Draft Seaman Water Supply EIS would occur at a later date. Each Draft EIS will be published for public review and comments. Public comments will be considered and addressed in each Final EIS serving as a basis for the USACE decision on whether to issue or deny Section 404 Permits for the project proposals to enlarge Halligan and Seaman Reservoirs.

Background: In 2006, the Cities of Fort Collins and Greeley and six other water providers proposed to enlarge Fort Collins’ existing Halligan Reservoir and Greeley’s existing Seaman Reservoir to provide approximately 88,592 acre-feet of additional storage capacity in the Cache la Poudre River Basin. The participants proposed the projects to provide a more secure water supply designed to meet existing and future water demands during drought years. The projects would also provide more efficiency in managing the participants’ existing or future water rights, some operational redundancy, and possibly some environmental benefits. The two projects would be non-federal projects constructed, owned, and operated by the participants. However, because constructing the projects would result in temporary and permanent impacts to the North Fork of the Cache la Poudre River it requires a permit from the USACE under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The projects were initially being reviewed as a combined EIS because the projects are both on the North Fork of the Cache la Poudre River and the participants intend to coordinate reservoir operations in order to increase efficiencies and enhance river functions.

Since 2006, USACE has completed the scoping process and been preparing a Draft EIS. The EIS was delayed in 2008 when public comments regarding the Draft EIS for another water supply project, the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), identified inadequacies in how the hydrologic impacts of the project were modeled. As a result, USACE began developing a single modeling approach by integrating water system models for all participants in the Halligan and Seaman water supply projects and the proponent of NISP, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. After four years of development, a model capable of accurately projecting the hydrologic impacts of the Halligan and Seaman water supply projects, NISP, and various alternatives for each of the projects was complete. The delays led several parties to terminate their participation in the Halligan and Seaman water supply projects leaving Fort Collins and Greeley as the sole project proponents accordingly decreasing the additional storage capacity from 88,592 to 61,124 acre-feet. 

Cody Wheeler
Eileen Williamson

Release no. 20150115-001