By State Representative B.J. Nikkel
House District 49
In Northern Colorado, we are able to enjoy the bounty of produce grown on the tens of thousands of acres of farmland in Larimer and Weld Counties irrigated by the precious waters flowing down from our high country. This has all been made possible by the visionaries who preceded and provided for us.
These irrigated farmlands provide open space between our growing communities and also allow us to grow top quality foods to put on our tables. Many people don’t realize that Weld County is one of the top producing agricultural counties in the entire United States.
In the 1930’s, W.D. Farr and other visionaries led the effort to build the Big Thompson Water Project. Today, this tremendous project provides an invaluable supply of water to our ranchers and farmers, and families living in our Northern Colorado communities
Over the past 30 years, Northern Colorado’s population has more than doubled and yet no new significant water supply facility has been built. Growing cities in the Denver metro-area are looking north to find the water supply their communities need and they have their sights on thousands of acres of irrigated farmland in Northern Colorado.
Without a new significant water project, a recent environmental study showed that more than one hundred square miles of currently irrigated productive farmland will be dried up forever. The result would be catastrophic and would be an environmental and economic disaster for Northern Colorado.
After more than two decades of detailed planning and ongoing discussions, the time has come for us to support a new water project – the Northern Integrated Supply Project (known as NISP).
Several communities in Weld and Larimer County are currently seeking a permit from the Army Corp of Engineers to construct NISP. The project will include two new water reservoirs: Glade and Galeton.
The proposed Glade Reservoir location is situated north of Fort Collins in Larimer County. It is off-stream and is not on the Cache la Poudre River – as some opposing this project have insinuated. The project’s location continues to protect the Poudre River as a Wild and Scenic River.
The Galeton Reservoir and its pipeline from the South Platte River in Weld County will allow delivery of water for agricultural use to two ditch companies. This part of the project is of critical importance to farmers and ranchers in Weld County.
Agriculture has been hard hit in recent years by the drought of 2002, and then by the shut-down of hundreds of agricultural wells in Northern Colorado by the state. Also, the closure of New Frontier Bank last year in Greeley by the FDIC hurt many Larimer and Weld County farmers and ranchers.
We must act now regarding this critical water storage project to ensure we will be able to continue to supply our communities and our farms and ranches needs. We must act now to ensure that Northern Colorado remains a top agricultural producer for the United States. We must stand up and support our farmers and ranchers by supporting critical water storage and keeping more of Colorado’s water in the state and that is why I endorsed the Northern Integrated Supply Project.
You can help in this effort by attending a lunch time rally in support of NISP in Erie, Colorado from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Anderson Farms on Thursday, July 15th. Anderson Farms is located just a few miles east of I-25 and south of Highway 52 (Dacono/Erie Exit) at 6728 Weld County Road 3 ¼.
Please join Weld and Larimer County farmers and ranchers as they rally to send a message to our local, state and federal elected officials – to send the message that we need NISP now.
State Representative B.J. Nikkel has served for two years in the Colorado House of Representatives and represents House District 49 serving Larimer and Weld Counties. She sits on the Judiciary Committee and the State, Military and Veterans Affairs Committees.