The city of Thornton is seeking approval from Larimer County to proceed with the first 10 miles of a crucial 70-mile water pipeline, which will provide water access to over 10,000 potential homes. The initial proposal was rejected by Larimer County commissioners, invoking state regulations on land use for large projects. Thornton has engaged in a public relations campaign to address concerns raised by residents along the pipeline route.
To accommodate neighbor objections, Thornton has adjusted the pipeline map, rerouting it away from homes and major roads. The new route primarily runs through farmland under Thornton’s control and parallels I-25. Thornton has also reduced the length of the pipeline within Larimer County by nearly 17 miles and moved a contentious pumping station further away from residential areas.
While Thornton has already obtained approvals in Weld County and received local support from various stakeholders, obtaining a permit from Larimer County is crucial for the project’s completion. In an effort to foster community engagement, Thornton directly communicated with approximately 400 nearby residents and held informative forums that attracted 180 participants.
Unlike the previous approach of designing the pipeline and then seeking feedback, Thornton sought public opinion upfront and incorporated it into the engineering process. The permit application includes precise details of the pipeline’s location and supporting structures for neighbors to assess potential impacts.
Additionally, Thornton has been in talks with the environmental advocacy group Save the Poudre/Save the Colorado, led by Gary Wockner. Wockner proposes an alternative plan that allows water rights to flow an additional 14 miles down the Poudre channel before being extracted by the pipeline, benefiting wildlife habitat and recreational activities. However, Thornton highlights concerns regarding contaminants accumulating in the water during this extended journey.
Thornton emphasizes its commitment to collaborating with conservation groups and municipalities to ensure river flows during critical periods. Although the renewed permit application addresses concerns raised during the first review, it remains uncertain how Larimer County’s planning department and commissioners will respond.
The growing population of Thornton, projected to reach 240,000 by 2040, has heightened the urgency for securing water supplies. The city has encountered obstacles in granting plat approvals for housing projects due to insufficient water availability. Similar challenges have been faced by other municipalities along the Front Range in recent years.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. Why does Thornton need approval from Larimer County for the water pipeline?
Thornton’s pipeline project falls under Larimer County’s jurisdiction, as the county has the authority to review and grant permits for large-scale projects under state regulations.
2. How has Thornton addressed concerns raised by residents along the pipeline route?
Thornton has adjusted the pipeline map to avoid homes and major roads, primarily running through farmland under its control. The city has also engaged with residents through public forums to gather feedback and incorporate it into the project’s design.
3. What is Thornton’s response to the proposal from Save the Poudre/Save the Colorado?
While Thornton acknowledges the importance of preserving natural flow in waterways, the city cites concerns about the accumulation of contaminants during an extended journey down the Poudre channel. Thornton asserts that constructing a water treatment plant to address these contaminants would be significantly costlier than its current pipeline plan.
4. Why is securing Larimer County’s approval crucial for Thornton?
Larimer County’s approval is necessary for Thornton to complete the water pipeline project. Without it, the city cannot guarantee water supply to thousands of potential homes, which has resulted in the postponement of housing projects and hindered the city’s growth.
5. What other challenges have other municipalities faced regarding water supply?
Similar to Thornton, other municipalities along the Front Range have encountered limitations in securing adequate water supplies, impeding the approval of housing developments and population growth.