Guest Column Submitted to the Greeley Tribune 10/24/21

SAVE GREELEY’S WATER

By John and Mary Gauthiere

The Save Greeley’s Water (SGW) movement actually started in 1986 when Greeley decided to sell its high mountain reservoirs to Thornton.  It just didn’t have a name yet.  Concerned Citizens started a Charter Amendment Petition Drive to bring any water sale to a vote.  Our lead person, Joe Howard, spoke with Judge Donald Carpenter, son of Delph Carpenter, who thought Greeley should never sell its water.  He referred us to Judge William West who wrote the proposed Charter Amendment.

The citizens obtained 2,669 signatures for an Amendment to the City Charter to take any proposed sale of water rights or long term leases to the voters.  The Citizens were able to bring political pressure on the Council such that the Council voted 4-3 against the sale.  We still enjoy that water today!

The City’s serious pursuit of Terry Ranch, an aquifer contaminated with uranium and other potential hazards, prompted the resurgence of the Citizen effort this year.

A Tribune article from March 2019 states that Roy Otto was in serious discussions with Thornton to move their WS&S water across Larimer County since they couldn’t obtain a permit from Larimer County.  It was proposed that Greeley lease or sell Thornton space in our Bellvue Water Treatment Plant and associated pipelines to move Thornton’s water across Larimer County to the pipeline Thornton is building at Windsor.  In order to accommodate Thornton in Greeley’s system, Greeley would have to get some demand out of the Bellvue system.  Hence Terry Ranch!  The perfect solution!  Not for Greeley Citizens benefit, but for the benefit of Thornton!  If Greeley could provide Terry Ranch water for its Citizens, there would be room to accommodate Thornton.

Much research was undertaken.  Meetings with Water Board members, staff and consultants occurred. Greeley closed on Terry Ranch in April 2021.  SGW doesn’t think the City made a good decision.  This doesn’t only pertain to the quality of the groundwater purchased, but the involvement of Talkot Capital, an Investment Firm owned by the Akin Family.  Wingfoot is their surrogate.

This Firm intends to take millions of dollars of profit from Greeley Citizens.  This is what investment firms do.  When a private party gets involved in public projects, the private party gets the profit and the public gets exploited.  Greeley has never “financed” a water purchase this way before.  For these and other reasons, SGW decided to move forward with Charter Change Amendments to give the Citizens some power over critical water decisions.

Amendment 17-9 (aka 2G) requires a public vote to sell water rights or facilities or lease them for the long term. An independent engineering study, made available to the public, and a public hearing must be held on the measure before the vote.

Amendment 17-10 (aka 2H) requires a public vote to buy recycled wastewater or groundwater and deliver it through Greeley’s water system.  Ditto on the engineering study. 

That is the totality of the charter changes!  No special elections required, with proper management of the Water & Sewer Department.  No super majority vote required to pass measures under these amendments. 

It is very disappointing that the City has resorted to the use of scare tactics to discourage the Citizens from voting In Favor of these Amendments.  The Council’s Ballot Titles are Deceptive and Not Worthy of being presented to Greeley Citizens.

SGW wants water rates to be low.  Terry Ranch infrastructure and treatment costs will cause rates to skyrocket!

Citizens, Don’t Listen to the City’s Propaganda or the Greeley Tribune Opinion.  If you want a Voice in the Water your Family Drinks, Vote Yes on 2G/2H.   

Refuting the City’s Website Claims on 2G and 2H

According to the City of Greeley’s website:

 Charter Amendments 17-9 and 17-10 “would require the city to hold elections on water-related matters, putting operational questions on the ballot that must pass by a majority of all registered voters, regardless of voter turnout to the elections. The changes could delay or suspend long-term water leases, limit the use of leases with farmers interested in selling their water now but not yet done farming, and limit Greeley’s position in the water purchasing market. The changes duplicate the state law that already requires a vote for any sale or trade of a waterworks or utility asset. The changes also would require an election prior to using groundwater or recycled wastewater for drinking or irrigation (non-potable) use. The proposed changes would also require that an engineering study of the lease, sale or trade be performed and published at least sixty (60) days before the election.”

Does the City really consider the buying and selling of our water to be an “operational question”? We consider an operational question to be how to use the resources we already have in the most efficient manner possible, while providing the best quality product to the Citizens. We do not consider selling our water assets or buying a lower quality of water than we already have, to be an “operational question”.

City officials, please cite the State Law that Amendments 17-9 and 17-10 would be duplicating. We can’t seem to find it. With this argument, the City is trying to lull the public back to sleep. “Don’t you worry now, public. Everything is taken care of.”

If there is such a State Law, why didn’t it come into play when the City tried to sell our high mountain reservoirs to Thornton in 1986? And why didn’t it come into play when, over the years, Greeley sold half of its Windy Gap water to other front range cities? Windy Gap water is wholly consumable, which makes it more valuable than some of our other water rights, and could have been stored in the Chimney Hollow Reservoir, which has been permitted and is now under construction.

What is wrong with requiring a vote of the public before selling or changing the source of our water? And before the City makes such a huge decision that will affect the Citizens, what is wrong with requiring an “independent” engineering study and having it published and available for the public’s scrutiny 60 days before the election. Or does the City want to be able to churn our water rights all year, just like some stockbrokers churn stocks, to generate commissions? This shouldn’t happen!

The City’s ballot language that “the ballot that must pass by a majority of all registered voters, regardless of voter turnout to the elections” is not correct. But then why did the City Attorney interpret 17-9 and 17-10’s language “a majority vote of the registered electors” in this way? Well, to answer my own question, attorneys try to interpret language to the benefit of their client, in this case the City of Greeley. It appears they also tried to misstate the intention of the petitioners.

However, according to Robert’s Rules of Order, “In parliamentary procedure, the term ‘majority’ simply means ‘more than half.’   As it relates to a vote, a majority vote is more than half of the votes cast. Abstentions or blanks are excluded in calculating a majority vote. Also, the totals do not include votes cast by someone not entitled to vote or improper multiple votes by a single member.”

It appears that the City Officials, and other involved parties, are treating Greeley, “the gem of the prairie” as their play-thing. They are having a big party with the accumulated wealth of the Citizens, and the Citizens are not invited to that party. Just like the big Gala up at Terry Ranch in May after they closed that deal with Wingfoot.

We didn’t get our invitations, did you?

CITIZENS CAN TAKE CONTROL of their WATER FUTURE by VOTING YES on 2G AND 2H

JOHN GAUTHIERE as MAYOR will see that the CHARTER AMENDMENTS 17-9 & 17-10 are implemented for the CITIZENS’ BENEFIT

Letter to the Editor Submission

By Anita McAllister – Greeley Taxpayer and Water Drinker

City Propaganda

The City of Greeley, or their “special interest group”, just spent over $10,000 on a mailer to every household in Greeley to get you to vote No on Ballot Questions 2G and 2H.

City Officials called the citizens who worked hard to get these Charter Amendments on the ballot a “special interest group”. What we actually are is a “special group of citizens” interested in keeping high quality water in our faucets, maintaining the fiscal sustainability of our city and the health of our families in the future.

Greeley Officials disrespected these Standup Citizens by putting Deceptive Titles on their Ballot Questions, in a last ditch effort to maintain their power. Water is power, especially in the West! After all, what do the citizens know about water? Who do they think they are anyway?

Well, it turns out that Greeley Officials turned over Greeley’s valuable water supply to Wingfoot, in the form of credits, to be sold to developers for $36,500/acre-foot (it’s worth $60K – 80K/acre-foot). Wingfoot is selling our accumulated water supply, including our drought supply, to developers for the promise of a very questionable water supply sometime in the future.

By the time Officials figure out that Terry Ranch is a Time Bomb that won’t work, or is too expensive, it will be too late. Our City Officials will have squandered the excellent water supply developed by W. D. Farr and the hard working engineers of past decades. Citizens would’ve made a better decision.

Greeley should be protecting its conditional decrees on the Poudre River and developing more surface water supplies while they are still available. Greeley also needs to withstand the enormous pressure from the Denver Metro Area for our water in order to maintain Greeley’s quality of life.

VOTE YES on 2G & 2H

Setting the Ballot Titles

On August 31, 2021 the City Council set the ballot titles for the Charter Amendments. These titles are completely misleading in order to get the public to vote against them.

The public was not allowed to comment at the meeting!

You can read the full text of the Charter Amendments on the Resource page – Text of the Amendments. These amendments 17-9 and 17-10 are what would be added to the City Charter, not the city’s erroneous description of them in ballot questions 2G and 2H.

The charter amendments do not require special elections. Surface water can be purchased any day of the year. It is only the purchase of substandard water like groundwater or recycled wastewater that would require a vote. And any sale of our existing water rights, many with historical priorities, or water facilities should be discussed and voted on by the public.

Let Your Voice Be Heard! It’s Your Water!

Just Hold Your Nose and Vote Yes on Ballot Questions 2G and 2H.

https://www.thenocooptimist.com/news/greeley-city-council-votes-on-ballot-titles-for-two-amendments-save-greeleys-water-says-titles-are-misleading.