Referendum Outcome

Yesterday we turned in 2,028 unverified signatures to the City Clerk in an attempt to repeal Ordinance No. 10, 2021 which would allow the City to accept water credits from Terry Ranch. We needed 2,192 good, verified signatures for repeal and to allow the ordinance to go to a vote of the public. It was not enough to repeal the ordinance, but it does show a considerable amount of concern among the citizens about their drinking water quality.

We only had about 3 weeks to collect signatures, and in the midst of that 3 weeks we had a major and unusual snowstorm. The weather was not our friend.

On March 23, we requested a 2 week extension of time due to Covid, explaining how the City staff, City Council, and Water Board are not meeting in public due to Covid. Even the downtown hotel owners were given a deferral of their $212,242 payment on their redevelopment agreement for 2021 due to Covid. But the City Clerk did not have the discretion to give the Citizens the same consideration.

So, I suppose that the City of Greeley will close on the Wingfoot/Terry Ranch deal as soon as possible.

Acquisition of Terry Ranch Aquifer Will Not Reduce Our Water Bills

Someone commented on Nextdoor that they hoped that the acquisition of Terry Ranch would bring down their water bills. Here is why I think that won’t happen.

#1 Terry Ranch water is much more contaminated than Poudre River Water. The more contaminants, the higher the cost of treatment.

#2 The infrastructure for moving water from Terry Ranch to Greeley is not yet built. That costs lots of money. Nobody is going to pay that bill for Greeley. The Poudre River infrastructure is in place and has been upgraded. The Bellvue Water Treatment Plant has been enlarged and the 60” Bellvue pipeline that was meant to bring the increased water flow from an enlarged Milton Seaman Reservoir is just about complete.

#3 The main threats to our Poudre River water supply are contamination from spills and forest fires. Greeley’s water supply is so robust that any water contaminated in such a way can be bypassed down the river until the natural cleansing of the river takes place in 1-2 years. In the meantime, water can be taken from Horsetooth Reservoir through the Pleasant Valley Pipeline to the Bellvue Treatment Plant.

 #4 If Terry Ranch water becomes more contaminated than it already is, from past oil and gas wells that have been capped, or from the new wells that are on the books to be drilled in the future, or from several other possible contaminants that have been identified by engineers, the price of treatment will go way up, if it is possible at all.

Greeley has an abundance of water rights and water storage. In comparison, the population of Loveland is about 77,000. Loveland has 6,835 acre feet of water storage. Fort Collins at population of 174,000 has about 10,000 acre feet of storage. Greeley, at a population of about 110,000 has about 70,000 acre feet of storage. Greeley has ample water rights and storage to keep us developing for the next 20 years without Terry Ranch.

In that 20 years a US Corps of Engineers permit could be obtained to enlarge Milton Seaman Reservoir. We could keep our clean mountain water, keep our water bills reasonable and not have to worry about a huge investment in Terry Ranch that could easily be lost.

Referendum Text

Summary of the Text of the Referendum

If this referendum passes, Ordinance No. 10, 2021 would be repealed. Ordinance No. 10, 2021 amends Chapter 6, Title 14 of the Greeley Municipal Code relating to the dedication of raw water for city water service to consolidate all existing raw water dedication policies into the Municipal Code and to revise those provisions in three areas: 1) allow dedication of Raw Water Credits, 2) codify graduated raw water requirements for landscaping associated with commercial and multi-family developments, and 3) clarify that Raw Water Dedication for large parcel single family developments is required for the developed portion of the lot.

Explanation of SGW Objection

The underlined and bold portion above, allowing dedication of Raw Water Credits from Developers, is the portion of the Ordinance that SGW objects to. It was unanimously passed by the City Council in order for the City of Greeley to close on the Terry Ranch/Wingfoot deal on April 5th. The City of Greeley has previously accepted only Water or Cash in Lieu of Water from Developers.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Ballot Question

Shall Ordinance No. 10, 2021 be repealed, which ordinance would amend Chapter 6, Title 14 of the Greeley Municipal Code relating to the dedication of raw water for city water service in order to consolidate all existing raw water dedication policies into the Code and revising those provisions in three areas, to include: 1) allowing dedication of Raw Water Credits; 2) codifying graduated raw water requirements for landscaping associated with commercial and multi-family developments; and 3) clarifying that Raw Water Dedication for large parcel single family developments is required for the developed portion of the lot?

Save Greeley’s Water recommends a YES vote on the repeal of Ordinance No. 10, 2021.

Circulate the Referendum and Charter Change Petitions

The referendum packets have been picked up from the City Clerk and are ready for circulation. We need in excess of about 2,500 signatures and we only have until April 1 to get them turned in.

PLEASE CONSIDER BEING A CIRCULATOR!

If successful, this referendum will cause the ordinance which the City Council passed on March 2, which allows the water credits from Terry Ranch to be accepted for raw water dedication by the City, to be reconsidered by Council, and either repealed or go to a vote of the people.

A successful referendum will, at the least, delay the closing on the Terry Ranch deal and, if we prevail in the referendum election, will likely prevent it altogether…particularly, if we can also get the 7,000 to 8,000 signatures needed to cause an election (and prevail) to change the City Charter to not allow ground water purchases in the future without a vote of the public.

We may be doing a lot of voting this year to take back our basic rights, as citizens, to clean water!

PLEASE HELP!! BECOME A CIRCULATOR!!

Referendum

We visited the City Clerk’s office today and filed a protest to the ordinance which was passed by City Council last night, which would amend the raw water dedication provisions, to allow the City to accept raw water credits from Terry Ranch. We also let them know of our intent to circulate a Referendum. We should get the paperwork from the City Clerk’s office late on Monday and will then begin preparing packets to be circulated for signatures.

We will have just over 3 weeks to get in excess of 2,200 signatures on the Referendum. Again, they will have to be Greeley residents and registered voters. This Referendum will be in addition to the Charter Change Amendments which are now being circulated which require about 7,000 signatures. The Referendum and the Charter Change Amendments can be circulated together. You will need to get 3 signatures instead of 2.

The weather is looking good after Thursday so I GUESS WE BETTER GET OUR WALKING SHOES ON if we want to SAVE GREELEY’S WATER from the Terry Ranch contamination and give voters a say in their water future.

We are in urgent need of circulators. Please contact us here and we will get you signed up and get the materials to you to circulate. The regular folks out there are hungry for information and the right to vote.

SGW’s Rebuttal to Jokerst’s Comments to the Greeley Tribune on Terry Ranch

PART 1

  1. IS IT LIKELY THAT GREELEY WILL BE ABLE TO GET MILTON SEAMAN RESERVOIR EXPANSION PERMITTED?
  • Very unlikely
  • SGW    Permitting could be accomplished with diligent effort.  MSR permitting was not effectively pursued by previous water department staff.  The $19 million that present staff says was spent on permitting, was largely spent on the new 60” Bellvue pipeline, which was considered part of the permitting process, in that the enlarged pipeline would be required to handle the increased storage of MSR.  We have enough water to ensure reasonable growth in Greeley for the next 20 years until MSR can be permitted and enlarged.  Therefore, we do not need Terry Ranch.  Also, MSR can be staged.  It could be taken to 20,000 acre feet which would allow us to perfect our conditional decrees of app. 15,000 acre feet.  This could be done in a slightly larger footprint that it has now
  • WHY IS TERRY RANCH A BETTER ALTERNATIVE THAN ENLARGING MSR?
  • Can’t get a permit, MSR is too expensive.
  • SGW   The cost of MSR is being exaggerated.  We did a CORA to try to get the City’s estimates for the cost of enlarging MSR and they wanted $3,600 to locate and pull the files for the public.  SGW does not have that kind of money for something the public has already paid for.  There seems to be  a hostility toward the public if they question staff’s assumptions and presentations.   One suggestion:  Let the public choose their own engineering firm to do an estimate, at City expense,  on the construction cost of enlarging MSR to various capacities
  • SGW  TERRY RANCH WILL RESULT IN THE LOSS OF TWO VALUABLE CONDITIONAL WATER RIGHTS TOTALING 14,892 ACRE-FEET. AT THE CURRENT CASH-IN-LIEU PRICE FOR WATER, THAT WOULD BE A LOSS OF $506,328,000 FOR GREELEY.
  • AJ         We won’t lose these decrees, we will move them to Terry Ranch
  • SGW  That’s not practicably possible.  These decrees only fill during spring runoff which comes hard and fast.  The water needs to be stored until it can be fed into the Bellvue Treatment Plant, which has a capacity of 35 million gallons/day and then pumped 40 miles up to Terry Ranch.  This could only be done with an enlarged MSR. The City would need a Treatment Plant about 5 times larger to process the spring runoff quickly without enlarging MSR.
  • AJ         The $500 million valuation of the 15,000 acre feet conditional decree is absurd.  When Fort Collins lost a 33,000 acre foot decree through negligence, FC sued the law firm and received $2.5 million in compensation.  Therefore Gauthiere’s valuation of $500 million for 15,000 acre feet of water is absurd.
  • SGW    Jokerst would like to have us think that the insurance settlement on the 33,000 acre foot decree that he lost was paid out at 100%.  What a joke!  Divide $2.5 million by 33,000 acre feet and the insurance company paid Fort Collins about $76/acre foot.  Gauthiere valued the 15,000 acre feet at $34,000/acre foot which is about half of the market price.

PART 2

  1. WILL INJECTION OF TREATED BELLVUE WATER DISSOLVE PRECIPITATED URANIUM ORE BODIES, CAUSING URANIUM LEVELS TO SPIKE, CAUSING PROBLEMS WITH TREATMENT?
  • AJ         “We tested Bellvue water in the aquifer for 24 hours and then for 3-4 days with no adverse reaction.”
  • SGW  This is not sufficient time to determine reactivity.  The volume of water injected and then removed was not sufficient to contact any uranium ore bodies that may be present.
  • TERRY RANCH IS NOT AN EXCLUSIVE WATER RIGHT IN THE UNDERGROUND AQUIFER. THE STATE LAND BOARD LAND, WHICH CHECKERBOARDS THE RANCH, IS VULNERABLE TO OTHERS FILING WATER RIGHTS.
  • AJ  “We have an exclusive right to the groundwater underlying the surface land owned by the Terry Grazing Association. The Terry Grazing Association lands are checkerboarded with State Land Board land, but part of the purchase agreement is an exclusive lease to the water under the State Land Board land. The water under the State Land Board land has not been decreed. It’s not a decreed water right, but if it were decreed, Greeley would have the exclusive lease on the water.”
  • SGW   So do we have an exclusive lease on SLB or not?  Adam seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth.
  • AJ  North Terry Ranch is where the most productive wells are.
  • SGW  That’s also where the highest concentration of uranium has been found to date.  This is also the greatest recharge area for the aquifer and is most vulnerable to contamination from Fort Collins sewage sludge field to the West, the TCE plume to the North, and is the sight of the approved and pending fracking wells.
  • THE PROPOSED TERRY RANCH PIPELINE ROUTE IS VERY INEFFICIENT FROM A COST AND ENERGY STANDPOINT.
  • AJ  Yes, but we won’t use it every day.
  • SGW  In previous presentations, staff said they would have to keep the wells running continuously to keep them from plugging up.  Now they compare Terry Ranch to a big SUV that you keep in the garage and just take out during a drought.  The pumping charges to inject our clean Poudre water into the aquifer would be enormous.  Uphill (1,400 feet) for 40 miles, requiring at least 2 pump stations.
  • IS WINGFOOT’S $125 MILLION CONTRIBUTION A LOAN?
  • AJ It is not a loan.  There is no monthly or annual payment to Wingfoot.
  • SGW  Wingfoot has the right to sell 167 water credits to Greeley per year.  The City of Greeley is required to buy 167 water credits/year starting at $30,000/credit and inflating 3% per year.  This is to occur for 25 years.  This comes to $5 million/year for 25 years amounting to in excess of the $125 million that Wingfoot supposedly contributed up front to get this party…I’m sorry…this project, started.  If this is not a Public/Private Partnership (P3), I do not know what is!
  • The City of Fort Collins applies their sewage sludge to the land upstream of the Terry Ranch aquifer. Currently, Fort Collins applies 2,344 metric dry tons of sewage sludge per year to the property.
  • AJ  Fort Collins sludge will take 1,400 years to make it to the Terry Ranch aquifer.
  • SGW  The MODSIM model the consultants used to achieve their predetermined result was done at the SW corner of Terry Ranch where there is tight soil and little or no water production.  They should have tested the NW corner where the greatest aquifer recharge and water production occurs.  Any model can give erroneous results… garbage in…garbage out.  Another attempt to deceive the public.

PART 3

  1. WILL THE TCE PLUME FROM AN OLD MISSILE SITE CONTAMINATE TERRY RANCH?
  • AJ  The plume is moving East and will take at least 900 years to contaminate Terry Ranch.
  • SGW   The USACE has expanded their review boundary to the Northern border of Terry Ranch.  The plume is likely to move SE and follow the path of least resistance down the Lone Tree Creek geology.  According to the USACE, “buried paleo-drainages that generally mimic the surface topography exist, such as the drainage pattern of Lone Tree Creek. These paleo-drainages represent preferential groundwater flow pathways.”  This seems to indicate that Lone Tree Creek, which feeds directly into Terry Ranch and its recharge area, could move the TCE faster that the City is speculating. It has traveled 12 miles from its origination point in 60 years and is now 6 miles from Terry Ranch.
  • WHO GETS WHAT?
  • AJ  “Greeley gets ground water rights and access to an easement over the surface land to develop the ground water rights, an exclusive lease; five wells, and an option to recall those; (??) and $125 million.  Wingfoot gets 12,121 water credits and that put option to call it back, to sell credits back to Greeley.   They get certain revenue sharing if Greeley elects to sell this water to any user outside of the City of Greeley, or should we generate hydropower from this in the future.”
  • SGW  Jokerst did not mention  the 50/50 split on revenue from water rented to oil field fracking operators or agricultural users.
  • AJ  If we build MSR we will need a very large bond issue.
  • SGW MSR would probably not be built for 15-20 years.  What has happened to the Water Department’s Water Acquisition Fund and  Capital Replacement Fund, which are required to be maintained by City Charter?  Section 17.5 of the City Charter says that “All funds received from the water rates shall be used only for the operation, maintenance, replacement of and additions to the water system, including the acquisition of water rights”.  Through modest rate increases these funds could be built up to help with the enlargement of MSR down the road, as long as these funds are not raided to do things like build hotels, tearing up City Parks, etc.,  which would be prohibited by the City Charter.  The City should set up a digital library, so that anyone, including the citizens, can access it, at no expense, to serve as a watchdog over the City.

Terry Ranch in the Path of Nation’s Largest Trichloroethylene Plume

The Atlas D Missile Site 4 trichloroethylene (TCE) plume is the largest TCE plume in the nation. Trichloroethylene is a known carcinogen and is a cause of  birth defects.

This dialogue is intended to explain the above map of the trichloroethylene (TCE) plume, which originated at the Atlas D Missile Site 4, eighteen miles west of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  It is important to understand the location of the Atlas D Missile Site 4 Trichloroethylene ground water contamination plume in relation to Terry Ranch.      

The Atlas D Missile Site 4 is just South of I-80.  The (TCE) plume emanating from it is now 12 miles long and 3 miles wide, according to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.  Atlas Site 4’s TCE concentrations in the groundwater exceeds 240,000 parts per billion, well above Safe Drinking Act limit of 5 parts per billion.[1]  As a matter of fact, the TCE at the site is 48,000 times the safe drinking water limit.

It is quite possible that the TCE plume will turn South and follow the Lone Tree Creek geology to Terry Ranch and its Upper Laramie aquifer recharge area. The TCE plume has advanced 12 miles in 60 years towards the Ranch.  The TCE plume is within 6 miles of the Northern border of Terry Ranch and the highest capacity water producing well on the Ranch.  Judging from the historic rate of travel, it could take 30 years, plus or minus, to get to Terry Ranch. 

As a practical matter, the geology in the area is complex, and the presence, location, nature, and extent of  lenses of highly permeable material, fractures and solution holes are never completely understood. However, buried paleo-drainages that generally mimic the surface topography exist, such as the drainage pattern of Lone Tree Creek. These paleo-drainages represent preferential groundwater flow pathways.[2]  

If this is true, then the TCE plume would likely follow the Lone Tree Creek pathway and travel to the Terry Ranch.  While the City of Greeley’s staff considers the Brule Member of the White River geologic formation a confining impermeable geologic formation that might impede downward seepage of the TCE plume into the Upper Laramie (Terry Ranch) formation, it would be a mistake to do so. It would likely be incorrect, however, to simply consider the Brule a confining unit throughout the Site 4 study area.[3] 

The US Corps of Engineers (USACE) has been trying to model the trajectory of the TCE plume but is having difficulty producing a reliable model because of the complexity of the geological formations. Note the USACE Expanded Study area which covers the area between the East end of the plume and the Northern border of Terry Ranch.  The expanded study area indicates that USACE believes the plume could possible head south to Terry Ranch.  It is hard to ignore the US Corps of Engineers’ good judgement.  However, Adam Jokerst, Deputy Director of the Greeley Water Department, seems more than willing to ignore this good judgment.

Considering the interesting surprises that lurk in underground geology, the City of Greeley should not invest in, or depend on, the Terry Ranch as its future source of water for Greeley Citizens.  Greeley Citizens deserve the right to vote on this most important issue.

By John G. Gauthiere, P.E.


[1] STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE JOHN BARRASSO, A UNITED STATES SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF WYOMING, Cleaning Up Our Nation’s Cold War Legacy Sites, Homeland Security digital Library March 29, 2017, page 4

[2] US Army Corps of Engineers, Final Area-Wide Remedial Investigation Report Former Atlas D Missile Site 4, P XIV

[3] US Army Corps of Engineers, Final Area-Wide Remedial Investigation Report Former Atlas D Missile Site 4, P 5