A major Northern Colorado water resources project was given the green light on Friday when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a federal Clean Water Act Section 404 Record of Decision. It is the fourth and final key permit for the Northern Integrated Supply Project. 

The $2-billion project will create two reservoirs that will provide a combined 215,600 acre-ft of water storage by 2032. Together Glade Reservoir, northwest of Ft. Collins, Colo., and Galeton Reservoir, northeast of Greeley, are projected to bring 13 billion gallons of water to the area’s 250,000 residents each year.

While the project has been in the works for 18 years, “it’s a big deal that we received this permit, and we are ready to move forward,” says Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Northern Water) spokesperson Jeff Stahla. “It is still in the design phase, and construction could start in late 2024 or early 2025,” Stahla adds.

The NISP has already hired Kiewit as construction manager and general contractor for Glade Reservoir. “Kiewit performed geotechnical assessments at the site last summer that will be very valuable in our design,” Stahla says.

Local environmental group Save the Poudre has opposed the water project since its inception and plans to sue the Corps and Northern Water to keep it from moving forward. “We’ve fought this river-destroying project for nearly 20 years, girding for this final battle. Our attorneys’ pens are sharpened and we will sue to stop this project and protect the Poudre River as soon as possible,” Save the Poudre leaders said in a statement.

The Corps of Engineers released its Final Environmental Impact Statement in 2018, which stated that NISP “is the most sustainable and environmentally friendly way to meet Northern Colorado’s future water needs.” The multiyear study was conducted in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.  

Northern Water was named ENR Mountain States 2022 Owner of the Year. Headquartered in Berthoud, Colo., Northern Water serves nearly one million residents, along with widespread commercial, industrial and agricultural water customers.