The Windy Gap Firming Project includes several measures to mitigate environmental impacts to protect fish, ensure stream protection, and reduce water quality impacts to Grand Lake and the Colorado River.
Gov. John Hickenlooper formally endorsed the Windy Gap Firming Project, a water project that will serve cities and farmers on the northern Front Range as well as provide environmental benefits on the Western Slope.
The project expands the existing Windy Gap system built in the 1980s and includes the planned Chimney Hollow Reservoir southwest of Loveland to ensure more reliable supplies for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and other project participants. It also includes several protective measures for fish and waterways on the Western Slope.
“Northern Water and its many project partners have worked diligently, transparently and exhaustively in a collaborative public process that could stand as a model for a project of this nature,” Hickenlooper said. “This is precisely the kind of cooperative effort envisioned for a project to earn a state endorsement in Colorado's Water Plan.”
The Windy Gap Firming Project has been in the process of obtaining federal, state and local permits and certifications since 2003, including the required Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Plan approved by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Colorado Water Conservation Board and, most recently, the Section 401 Water Quality Certification from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“Colorado moves the needle today with endorsement of a project that makes gains for the environment and water supply together,” said James Eklund, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the agency that facilitated development of Colorado's Water Plan. “Grand County, environmental stakeholders, and Northern Water set an excellent example of the collaboration necessary to achieve the bold measurable objectives of Colorado's Water Plan and the Colorado and South Platte Basin Implementation Plans.”
The Windy Gap Firming Project includes several measures to mitigate environmental impacts to protect fish, ensure stream protection, and reduce water quality impacts to Grand Lake and the Colorado River. These and other agreements were key to building support for the project across a spectrum of interests and for earning endorsement from the state.
“Northern Water worked closely with state biologists to ensure that impacts on streams and rivers — and the fish and wildlife that depend on them — were identified and addressed through mitigation for the benefit of the environment, wildlife and recreation,” said Bob Broscheid, director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “This was a thorough and unified process and shows what we can accomplish when we work together to reach shared goals.”
With necessary permits and certifications for the project in hand, Hickenlooper also directed his staff to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the federal agency's issuance of a Section 404 Permit, the final federal regulatory step for the project.
For more information, visit http://www.northernwater.org.