In former Mayor Tom Norton’s Nextdoor post regarding the Terry Ranch project, he gave his Mayoral blessing to the project as an “excellent opportunity for Greeley…” He also touted Greeley’s existing water system as “the best municipal water system in the state of Colorado”. And on that we can agree. And yet he proposes to drastically change the source of Greeley’s drinking water to a uranium containing aquifer.
He says that Terry Ranch “is the most cost effective alternative for additional storage and quality water presently available to the city”. However, the cost estimates that the staff has come up with for the Milton Seaman Reservoir (MSR) enlargement appear grossly exaggerated in order to make the Terry Ranch project look affordable. The City has not provided the detailed cost estimates to us even though we have requested them several times. Their excuse is that it is “pre-decisional”.
Mayor Tom says that “The city needs all of its present assets” yet, according to Water Board Chairman Harold Evans, the city is willing to let the conditional decrees of almost 15,000 acre feet of water worth $500 million on MSR be abandoned (die).
John and I hiked about 4 miles around the west side of Seaman Reservoir this past weekend. The city fathers chose an outstanding spot for this reservoir. The rocky abutments appear to be almost begging for an enlargement. Being that there is already an existing reservoir, an enlargement to 53,000 acre-feet would be much less expensive than staff’s estimated $500 million and would have minimal environmental impact. How can MSR cost this much when the NISP project at four times the size is expected to only cost $1 billion to $1.2 billion?
Tom Norton said that “Greeley is fortunate to have a citizen Waterboard and a City Council who have looked at this project in extreme detail…”. The water board and city council are indeed volunteers who have sacrificed their time for the benefit of Greeley. However, the city council members, who will be making the final decision on this issue, have no innate knowledge of this project and have only the talking points that staff has put together and repeated to them time and time again. However, they do also have the resistance from the public, who have their own very good talking points, and their common sense that uranium is harmful to the human body, to help in their decision making.
I believe that some council members have young children. These young children will be drinking that uranium laced ground water much longer than they will.
And think about who is presenting the talking points to the council. It is the water & sewer department top level staff, who do not live in Greeley, and will not be drinking the water nor paying for it.
City council exists to serve the citizens of Greeley who do not want to give up their clean mountain drinking water for the worry of uranium in their water.
Mayor Tom says that “many questions needed to be answered but through the expertise of water engineers and geologist from both the private sector and the city staff all of these concerns have been addressed”. Then why do the citizens still not feel assured?
John sat down for a 2 hour q & a session with these staff and consultants and Water Board Chairman Harold Evans and most of his questions were not answered to his satisfaction. On separate occasions John has also met in person with Tom Norton, Roy Otto and Water and Sewer Director Sean Chambers.
In his post, Mayor Norton did not once mention that the Terry Ranch water contains uranium and that a whole different treatment process will be required to treat it and that a 40 mile pipeline will have to be built to capture it. In addition, Mayor Norton did not mention the treatment cost which will amount to millions of dollars per year. City staff has suggested that the exorbitant treatment cost could possibly be offset by selling the uranium which is mined during the treatment process to a third party. So Terry Ranch would really be our drinking water source and a uranium mine all in one! Is this really the least environmentally damaging alternative to Milton Seaman Reservoir enlargement? People are part of the environment too!
Mayor Norton did not once mention that, just adjacent to Terry Ranch, to the west, on top of the recharge area for the aquifer, is a Fort Collins’ sewage sludge disposal area that Norton supposedly designed. This sludge can contain pharmaceutical breakdown products, PFAS, and pseudo estrogens from plastics which will not be filtered out by the aquifer.
And we have not yet gotten into the financial aspects of the Wingfoot deal which are ridiculously scary for the City’s future financial health and prosperity. This deal has a huge default clause in it that, if enacted, could break the finances of the City. This deal is being financed by investment bankers who look after their own well being and profit, rather than by a state agency like the Colorado Water Conservation Board, that loans money at a very low interest rate to benefit the public and could finance the MSR enlargement.
The City of Greeley’s Terry Ranch website which Mayor Norton referred you to is very skewed to the City staff’s point of view on this issue. The city’s website also omits significant information, as did Mayor Norton’s post.
This Wingfoot/Terry Ranch deal needs to be rejected and the permitting for Milton Seaman Reservoir restarted. It is time to let your voice be heard in opposition to the Terry Ranch deal. Go to greeleygov.com/council and scroll to the bottom of the page for emails and phone numbers of council and mayor.