March 9, 2009
All public comments received by the Bureau of Reclamation on the Windy Gap Firming Project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) were recently posted to the bureau's website at www.usbr.gov/gp/nepa/quarterly.cfm#ecao.
"We are reviewing all the comments, looking for any new scientific data we might have missed, or that might change some of the conclusions in the draft document," said Kara Lamb, public information officer for the Bureau's eastern Colorado area office. "All comments will be responded to in the final EIS." The
Bureau received 1,130 comments.
The Windy Gap Firming Project proposes sending more Grand County water to Front Range communities like Greeley, Broomfield, Loveland and Fort Collins. In December, the Grand County Board of County Commissioners responded to the DEIS with pages of comments prepared by a team of water rights experts, scientists, attorneys, engineers, and National Environmental Policy Act specialists. Overall, the county commissioners maintain the Colorado-Big Thompson Project (C-BT) cannot be used to transport and store non-C-BT water for municipal use without amending Senate Document 80, which required an act of Congress. Senate Document 80 governs the operation of the C-BT, which delivers water to the northern Front Range. The county’s comments also questioned modeling used in the DEIS for determining river flows. Monthly averages were converted to daily averages, which doesn’t give an accurate portrayal of river flows especially during critical periods.
The Environmental Protection Agency also weighed in with comments, stating the Upper Colorado River is an "aquatic resource of national importance," and the proposed action would result in "substantial and unacceptable impacts" that don’t meet Clean Water Act guidelines.
The Bureau owns the C-BT system and is overseeing the Windy Gap project’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. NEPA requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of their proposed actions. To meet NEPA requirements, federal agencies prepare an EIS, which the EPA reviews.
“Hundreds of Grand County residents commented on the DEIS and attended the public meetings, which shows people care about what’s happening to our rivers and streams,” said County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran.
To read the county’s comments go towww.usbr.gov/gp/nepa/quarterly.cfm#ecao.