On Tuesday May 4, Save Greeley’s Water (SGW) filed a statement of intent with the City Clerk’s office to circulate two Charter Change Amendment Petitions. On Thursday May 6 we received approval to circulate them. These are the same petitions that we circulated earlier this year, requiring the City to get a vote of the public before they can sell Greeley’s water rights and other water assets, or buy and put groundwater or recycled wastewater into Greeley’s water system.
Because of a timing issue, the petitions circulated earlier this year required a special election and signatures equaling 10% of the registered Greeley voters (about 6,500). Because of Covid, the winter weather and the lack of knowledge of the public regarding the Terry Ranch deal, we were not able to collect the required number of signatures. And in the midst of our Charter Change Amendment Petition campaign, the City Council passed an ordinance allowing water credits (from Terry Ranch) to be accepted by the City of Greeley for development. This ordinance was necessary for the City to be able to close on the Terry Ranch deal. This provided SGW the opportunity to try to pass a referendum to have the public vote to repeal the ordinance and disallow the Terry Ranch water credits. Despite a large and unusual snowstorm, we collected over 2,000 signatures in the 3 week collection period but fell 164 signatures short of the required number to bring the ordinance to a vote of the public. On April 6, the City Council closed on the Terry Ranch deal.
With the Charter Change Amendment Petition Drive that has just been started, the timing will allow the petitions to be voted on at the next general election in November 2021 and require signatures totaling just 5% of the registered Greeley electors (a minimum of 3,101) and at no extra cost to the City for a special election. This appears to be a much more attainable goal. We have about 9 weeks starting today to obtain the needed signatures.
Why do we still need these Amendments to the Home Rule Charter since the City has closed on the Terry Ranch deal? There has been talk at past Water Board meetings that the permitting process for Milton Seaman Reservoir (MSR) would be abandoned if the City closed on the Terry Ranch deal. If the City in fact abandons that process, it is possible that they will find a buyer for the 15,000 acre feet of conditional water decrees that could be stored in MSR and possibly for MSR itself. Or the City could rent Greeley’s water infrastructure to another City. If either of those scenarios (or another scenario, not yet identified by the public) were to play out, we would likely be getting that Terry Ranch water sooner rather than later in our faucets.
If our Charter Change Amendments are approved by vote of the public, it could give the citizens of Greeley some say in their water future. All the power would not rest with the Water Board and City Council. The City would not be able to sell Greeley’s water assets and may have to find another use for that Terry Ranch water rather than putting it in our faucets. The Citizens need a say in their water future and these Charter Change Amendment Petitions will go a long way toward providing just that.
We believe that the Water Board and City Council have been some combination of foolish, arrogant, and I’m sorry to say, willfully ignorant, in the way that they handled this Terry Ranch issue. They were also dismissive of the public’s concerns and did not provide proper “Informed Public Consent”. At the so called “public hearing” on March 2, public participants (via zoom) were allotted two minutes each to give their comments. One of the citizen participants was told by a Council-member, who is a real estate attorney, that the citizen was committing “slander of title” and could be sued by verbalizing some of the possible contamination risks to the Terry Ranch aquifer. Does this Council-member attorney not know that the State of Colorado recently passed House Bill 19-1324 modeled after California’s anti-SLAPP statute against such a lawsuit against a citizen, called a SLAPP or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation?
The City Council adjourned that “public hearing” before 8:30 PM. In years past, a meeting on such a vital issue as Terry Ranch would have had in-person participation and would have gone on past midnight.
So goes public participation with the lack of a credible local newspaper and the inability of citizens to gather and share ideas and attend public meetings. As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. We, the Citizens of Greeley, can’t just do nothing! This is totally unacceptable for a great city such as Greeley. Please help SGW fight to give the Citizens some control over Greeley’s water future.
If all of you Greeley registered voters who are reading this and agree with the principals stated will commit to obtaining 50 signatures of Greeley registered voters by July 9, we can get these Charter Change Amendments on the November ballot. And, if they are successful in the November election, the people could have more say in their water future. After all, we are the ones who pay for the water and have to fund the decisions made by our leaders.
Greeley citizens have been told to conserve water, and we have. Part of this conservation effort was required by the permitting process to enlarge MSR. Now it appears that all of this conservation was really to make it easier for the developers to bring inferior and questionable water rights to the City at the expense of existing customers.
Please go to savegreeleyswater.com for more information on this vital issue. The Updates are a chronological blog, oldest material at the bottom. If you are new to the site, it would be most helpful for your understanding to start at the bottom and work up. The Resource page has research by a Professional Engineer who worked twenty two years in Greeley’s Water Department, as well as newspaper articles and compiled data from many sources. None of SGW’s information has changed. These are the facts as we know them. Unlike the City’s of Greeley’s propaganda mill, we have not changed our story.
If you are serious about circulating a petition and think that you can obtain 50 signatures in the next 9 weeks, please Private Message me on Nextdoor and/or contact us on savegreeleyswater.com, and we will see that you get a set of petitions.
Thank you for your concern and, hopefully, your participation.
We need your help!!