Public hearings on whether Larimer County should grant a permit for elements of the Northern Integrated Supply Project, or NISP, will be delayed at least 60 days.
Hearings originally were scheduled for May 6 in front of the county planning commission and for June 8 before the county commissioners. Citing concerns about the ability of the public to fully participate in the permitting process given restrictions on the size of gatherings because of the coronavirus, the county will delay the hearings for two months.
Northern Water, the primary proponent of the controversial regional water storage project, is amenable to the delay, spokesperson Jeff Stahla stated in an email to the Coloradoan.
“We agree that 60 days will offer time for agencies to evaluate the 1041 land-use application as well as navigate the uncharted waters that COVID-19 has presented us,” Stahla wrote. “We look forward to telling our story to the public and commissioners in the months to come.”
NISP would draw from the Poudre River and deliver water to 15 Northern Colorado municipalities and water providers, including Windsor and Fort Collins-Loveland Water District.
Its components include Glade Reservoir, which would be built northwest of Fort Collins. Glade’s capacity would be a little more than Horsetooth Reservoir’s. Its construction would require the relocation of a portion of U.S. Highway 287.
Northern Water is seeking what is known as a 1041 permit from the county for the locations of pipelines that are part of the massive project as well as Glade and recreational facilities associated with it.
NISP has been going through a federal environmental review process since 2004. A final decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected this year. State officials have approved a water quality permit for the project.
Critics of the project called for extending the county’s 1041 process until the pandemic subsides and hearings the public could attend would be feasible.
County officials said delaying the NISP hearings would give entities such as the city of Fort Collins and the county health department more time to review Northern’s application and offer comments.
Buy and dry:Dozens of farms will supply water for NISP
State law directs local governments to hold public hearings on 1041 applications within 90 days of an application being accepted as complete. The application for NISP was found complete on March 18.
However, the county has flexibility in conducting its business during an emergency, County Attorney Jeannine Haag told the commissioners during a recent meeting.
Oil and gas hearing set
The Larimer County commissioners plan to go ahead with a public hearing regarding proposed regulations for oil and gas facilities even with county-ordered restrictions on gatherings because of the coronavirus.
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. April 6 at the county courthouse offices building, 200 W. Oak St. However, public testimony is discouraged because of a stay-at-home order.
Comments will be taken by email and phone. Those wishing to participate may sign up at larimer.org/planning/oil-and-gas-regulations.
The environmental group Larimer Alliance called on the county to postpone the hearing and suspend action on oil and gas regulations until the pandemic emergency has passed.
“The current situation imposes significant obstacles to public participation as needed in this important matter,” the group stated in a letter to the commissioners.
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