LARIMER COUNTY ENVIRONMETNAL ADVISORY BOARD (EAB)

 MEETING MINUTES

May 8, 2007

 

 

Members In Attendance:

 

Guests:

Sanjay Advani

 

Mark Easter, Sierra Club Poudre Group

Mike Erickson

 

Scott Cornell, Engineering Department

David Gilkey

 

Kate Muldoon

Jennifer Lee

 

 

Dale Lockwood

 

Commissioner:

Devin Odell

 

Karen Wagner

Jim Skarbek

 

 

Sherm Worthington

 

Staff:

 

 

Doug Ryan

 

Introduction of Members and Guests:

All in attendance introduced themselves. 

 

Discussion Items:

NISP Water project:  Mark Easter, from the Sierra Club Poudre Canyon Group, provided an update on their analysis of the proposed NISP project.  NISP is a water development project proposed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District in partnership with 13 participating cities or water districts.  It includes Glade Reservoir in Larimer County and Galeton Reservoir in Weld County.  The District provided background information on the project at an Advisory Board meeting in October 2006.  A draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected to be released in July of this year.  The Environmental Advisory Board will be one of the county boards and commissions asked review the draft EIS and help the County Commissioners develop their formal comments during the planned 90-day public comment period.  Water for Glade Reservoir would be diverted from the Poudre River during periods of high runoff when the District’s water right allowed.  About half the diversion would be based on a direct junior water right on Poudre.  The other half would be based on an exchange with irrigators who normally divert from the Poudre, but would instead use South Platte water stored in Galeton Reservoir.

 

Mr. Easter used a power point presentation to outline why the Poudre Canyon Group opposes the project.   The project would remove water that currently flows in the river during the ecologically sensitive peak runoff.  The Poudre Canyon Group has determined that these reduced flows will have negative impacts on water quality and recreational uses from the mouth of Poudre Canyon to the confluence with the South Platte.  Additionally, the cost of financing the project is very expensive, and the ability to pay back the bonds will depend on either accommodating or attracting very rapid growth in each of the sponsoring communities. 

 

As an alternative, the Sierra Club proposes that these new diversion and storage projects should not be considered until all reasonable conservation and efficiency measures have been implemented.  They estimate that 25 to 30 % of NISP’s planned 40,000 acre feet yearly yield could be achieved through conservation implemented and promoted by the cities and water districts.  The Poudre Canyon Group calculates that the costs to implement conservation measures are lower and more certain than for developing new water supplies.  Additional measures in the agricultural sector could be implemented to save the rest of the project needs.  These measures could include efficiency measures such as the use of center pivot irrigation to replace conventional flood irrigation, lining of ditches to prevent seepage, and use of interruptible supply agreements with municipal water providers.  Mr. Easter noted that there would be complicated details to work out relating to conservation and efficiency measures, but that in the long run they would be preferable to the financial and environmental costs of developing NISP.  Additional analysis from the Sierra Club is available at http://www.savethepoudre.org/nisp_project.html

 

 

 

Larimer County NPDES Program:  Scott Cornell from the Larimer County Engineering Department provided an update on the County’s stormwater program.  The County is operating under the Phase II Municipal Requirements outlined in the Colorado National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program.  Under this program, the County has a general requirement to develop, implement and enforce a stormwater management program designed to reduce the discharge of pollutants from municipal storm sewers “to the maximum extent practicable”.  Through Mr. Cornell’s management, the County has initiated action within six program areas:  public education, public involvement, illicit discharge detection and elimination, construction site stormwater runoff control, post construction stormwater management for new developments, and pollution prevention/good housekeeping practices for County facilities.  The program is in the last year of the initial 5-year permit period.  A copy of the annual report submitted to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment was provided for EAB members.  While the County has addressed each of the six program areas, the emphasis has been on mapping stormwater discharge points, adoption of an updated stormwater management manual, and support for legislation to authorize Counties to enact stormwater regulations.  Once the permit has been reissued after the current 5-year period, the emphasis will shift to include public education, monitoring, permitting for construction sites, and response to illicit discharge events.  The Advisory Board indicated that they are interested in following the progress of this program and consulting as the program moves to the next phase. 

 

BCC Liaison Comments:

Commissioner Wagner noted that an announcement on the agreement within the Colorado congressional delegation on a wilderness bill for Rocky Mountain National Park is scheduled for Monday, May 14. 

 

Last month Commissioner Wagner updated the EAB on the status of the proposed Regional Transportation Authority.  Current discussions between Weld County and the City of Greeley cast doubt on whether Greeley would be willing to support a Weld County-only RTA instead of the larger regional body that the steering committee is pursuing.  At this point the steering committee is recommending a funding split to include 50% for roads, 25% for transit, and 25% share back to the communities for maintenance.  The steering committee will also identify a list of specific projects to be included in the anticipated ballot proposal. 

 

The formation of the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority is moving forward.  Larimer County authorized its initial match of $10,000 as part of this multi-state project to consider a passenger rail corridor from Albuquerque NM to Casper WY.

 

The County Commissioners have held recent discussions with the Town of Wellington about the possibility of developing an Intergovernmental Agreement, or IGA, to coordinate on land use issues.

 

On May 7 the Commissioners heard from the County’s Green Business Practices Committee.  The Commissioners accepted the Committee’s recommendation that the County participate in the Fort Collins Climate Wise program.  It is anticipated that the initial audit and inventory will begin this summer.  It is hoped that an intern will be selected to help with this project.  Commissioner Wagener noted that if the program proves successful, it may be prudent to consider a staff sustainability coordinator position for some time in the future in order to maintain progress on green business practices.

 

Chair’s Comments:

Dale Lockwood attended a conference on April 11 and 12 at Colorado State University on the challenges and opportunities of bio fuels.  One of the messages from the conference was that while ethanol has been considered a short-term less energy efficient way to produce bio fuels, it is here to stay until a more efficient process replaces it.  At this time other options on the horizon, such as the conversion of switch grass, have not had the technical breakthroughs to bring them to the forefront.   One of the locational factors for ethanol plants is to be near a cattle feeding industry in order to take advantage of the spent corn byproduct that is used as a feedstock.  For this reason, ethanol plants will continue to be sited in areas where the corn crop needs to be imported.

 

Approval of Previous Minutes:

Minutes from the March and April 2007 meetings were approved as corrected.

 

Updates: 

Kate Muldoon asked about the County’s involvement in the proposed uranium mining proposals in Weld County.  Staff from several County departments have attended recent community meetings, and researched the review and permitting process that would be necessary to allow consideration of mining.  At this point the Powertech Uranium Corporation has indicated their intent to apply for the required State and Weld County permits, by actual applications have not been made. 

 

Doug Ryan distributed copies of the Larimer County Solid Waste Department’s 2006 Annual Report.

 

Dave Gilkey reported that new data on housing has been added to the Compass web site at http://www.larimer.org/compass/.  Let him know if you see something that is particularly interesting and would like to schedule a discussion. 

 

Jim Skarbek told the Advisory Board that his travel schedule is very full, and that he has decided not to seek reappointment to the EAB when his term expires at the end of June.  Sanjay Advani announced that his new job in the Denver area has him commuting every day, and that he is also not asking for a reappointment to a second term on the Advisory Board.  Jim and Sanjay are both active participating members of the EAB.  Members joined in expressing their thanks and appreciation for their contribution the Advisory Board.

 

EAB Issue Index:

Doug Ryan will update the Issue Index related to the topics discussed at the meeting

 

Next Meeting Agenda:

No items to date.

 

Adjourn:

The meeting ended at 8:30 pm.