SAMPLE LETTER TO MAYOR AND COUNCIL

Please feel free to use this letter to send to mayor and council as is, or make what ever changes you feel are appropriate for your situation. Just please send a letter!

November 27, 2020

Honorable Mayor and Council,

I wish to express my dismay at an action taken by the City of Greeley Water & Sewer Board concerning the future quality of Greeley’s water.  As I understand it, Greeley may well undertake the pursuit of ground water for the majority of Greeley’s future drinking water supply.

As a Greeley water customer, this is most troubling.  Since we moved to Greeley, we have had the privilege of having the best drinking water in the country.  Greeley has some of the best and most numerous water rights in Northern Colorado.  I don’t understand why the city is now pursuing ground water with all the surface water rights that it owns.

Our family depends on having clean drinking water for our health.  Uranium is an undesirable element to have in drinking water even if it is naturally occurring.  There is no such thing as naturally occurring uranium in the human body.  I think that would be called a cancer risk.  Even if you attempt to completely remove the uranium,  you may not be successful and will decide to blend it with the Bellvue water.  The perception of uranium in the water will always be there, and we will worry about the health risk to our family.

I  implore you not to go down this path.  This will forever change the perception of the quality of Greeley’s water and hurt our family’s health and peace of mind.

Aside from the negative perception of the water, the increased cost of treatment may significantly impact our water bill, as well as require a point of use device on our home to remove remaining contaminants from our water.

I think that we should renew our efforts to obtain a permit to enlarge Milton Seaman Reservoir.  Greeley possesses adequate water rights to see us through the next decade or so until the Milton Seaman Enlargement Project can be built.

Please rethink the Water Board’s position and make the right decision for the citizens of Greeley and other Greeley water customers who depend on quality drinking water for their health and peace of mind.

Please vote no on the Terry Ranch/Wingfoot Plan.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Happy Thanksgiving

Here are some thoughts to keep in mind as we celebrate Thanksgiving and struggle to preserve our mountain water supply. Citizens are the guardians of their water. Corruption impoverishes the many, enriches a few.

The following quote from Edmund Burke (1729-1797) is especially fitting at this time when we are under the veil of Covid and cannot freely associate with friends and neighbors.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ― Edmund Burke

in History, Politics | March 13th, 2016

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”Edmund Burke (in a letter addressed to Thomas Mercer).

That’s the short version, attributed to Burke. A longer version reads as follows:

Whilst men are linked together, they easily and speedily communicate the alarm of any evil design. They are enabled to fathom it with common counsel, and to oppose it with united strength. Whereas, when they lie dispersed, without concert, order, or discipline, communication is uncertain, counsel difficult, and resistance impracticable. Where men are not acquainted with each other’s principles, nor experienced in each other’s talents, nor at all practised in their mutual habitudes and dispositions by joint efforts in business; no personal confidence, no friendship, no common interest, subsisting among them; it is evidently impossible that they can act a public part with uniformity, perseverance, or efficacy. In a connection, the most inconsiderable man, by adding to the weight of the whole, has his value, and his use; out of it, the greatest talents are wholly unserviceable to the public. No man, who is not inflamed by vain-glory into enthusiasm, can flatter himself that his single, unsupported, desultory, unsystematic endeavours, are of power to defeat the subtle designs and united cabals of ambitious citizens. When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

–Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents 82-83 (1770) in: Select Works of Edmund Burke, vol. 1, p. 146 (Liberty Fund ed. 1999).

Water Quality Data from the City of Greeley on Wells at Terry Ranch

The water Greeley would be receiving from Terry Ranch would be primarily from wells 1, 2 and 3 which are in the northern part of Terry Ranch. In a meeting with staff, city consultants and Water Board Chairman Harold Evens on November 17, 2020 between 9 AM and 11 AM, John Gauthiere was told by the City’s Consultant, Cortney Brand of LRE Water, that the southern half of the aquifer will not produce water.

The values in the table above are not static. They are just a point in time measurement. As those of you familiar with ground water know, wells often go bad from infiltration of contaminants, or they may dry up unexpectedly.

Letter to Mayor and Council

Honorable Mayor & Council,

It is with a heavy heart that I write this letter to you today.  Greeley citizens have enjoyed pure mountain drinking water for the last 100 years.  And now that may change.  I implore you to vote against the Terry Ranch/Wingfoot agreement that the Water Board has signed. 

My husband met with the city staff, consultants and Water & Sewer Board Chairman Harold Evans on November 17, and no one could provide satisfactory answers to his many questions.  He brought up issues that the consultants had not even addressed.  On questioning, Chairman Harold Evans even admitted that the City is intending to accommodate Thornton in our water system over the short term and, most likely, the long term.  Harold Evans had an attitude that the citizens didn’t count and that he had the Council’s vote.

It is apparent that the overriding reason that the Terry Ranch is being considered for our drinking water is not to benefit Greeley citizens.  It is for the City to make room in our newly improved Bellvue Water Treatment Plant and new 60″ Bellvue pipeline to accommodate the City of Thornton in getting its Water Supply and Storage water holdings south to Thornton. 

How disrespectful of Greeley citizens!  To make us drink uranium tainted water to accommodate Thornton!  And, by the way, it will also enrich the already rich Akin family, by selling an inferior water supply to Greeley.

I understand that Larimer County has denied Thornton access to build a pipeline.  But that is not our problem.  The citizens of Greeley are paying for the improvements to the pipeline and treatment plant and we should not be pushed out of our own water treatment and supply system.

We should maintain our friendship with our nearest neighbor, Fort Collins, with whom we share a common interest in developing and maintaining water storage on the North Fork of the Poudre River for the benefit of the environment and both cities.  The Milton Seaman Reservoir Enlargement Project is a very feasible project.  The City has not made a diligent effort to get a permit for many years.  That is why Fort Collins moved forward without Greeley in their effort to get the Halligan Enlargement Project permitted.  Greeley dropped the ball.

You may know that I have spoken out on Nextdoor about this issue and, to a person, no one is in favor of this deal.  They are all very confused as to why the City would do this to them.  They take it very personal.  They believe there is corruption in City Government.  I hope you can prove them wrong. 

I am attaching a letter that I wrote explaining who John Gauthiere is, and why he is so qualified to speak out on this topic.  I also invite you to go to our website savegreeleyswater.com for more information. 

I don’t believe you are getting a proper sense of what our mountain water means to Greeley citizens from the Greeley Water & Sewer Board and the Water Department staff.  They are approaching Terry Ranch as a business deal, but it is so much more to the citizens whom you have sworn to represent.  Water is the life blood of Greeley.  We will not give up our pure mountain drinking water without a fight!

Please vote no on the Terry Ranch/ Wingfoot deal.

Sincerely,

Please feel free to use any information in the above letter to compose your own or copy and send as your own.

Contact Greeley City Officials

You can contact the Mayor and City Council by going to greeleygov.com/government/council and scrolling to the bottom of the page for emails and phone numbers. Just click on the email address and start writing.

You can contact the City Manager by going to roy.otto@greeleygov.com or phoning him at 970-350-9770

You can contact the Water and Sewer Department by going to greeleygov.com/services/ws

CAN WE JUST KEEP IT SIMPLE?

(DECIDING GREELEY’S FUTURE)

Mary Gauthiere/Greeley Tribune 10/24/2020

Snow falls.  Snow melts.  It drains into the Poudre River.  It follows the river to the Bellvue Water Treatment Plant, or it is stored in mountain reservoirs.  When needed, it flows by gravity to Greeley.  We buy all the good surface water rights we can.   We enlarge our reservoirs as much as we can.  When they can’t hold any more water, we stop building.  Our houses go up in value because we are fortunate to live in such a beautiful place with such pure water.  We maintain our quality of life!

OR…

We drill into an aquifer for our water so that we may grow beyond our means.  The water has uranium, arsenic, and selenium in it.  The water is very expensive to treat.  We send this water to Greeley.  When we draw down the aquifer, we recharge it with our clean mountain water that has already been treated at the Bellvue Water Treatment Plant.  The water reacts with the uranium deposits in the aquifer.  It dissolves even more uranium that needs to be removed, or… we just dilute the uranium water into our clean water and call it good.  Greeley’s reputation for quality water is destroyed.  Our home prices go down.  Our quality of life goes down.  Some people move away.  Others cannot move away.  We worry about what the water is doing to us and our children.  We stay, but life is never the same!

The “we” in this story is you and me.  We are currently living the first reality.

But we will be living the second reality if we let this happen.

Don’t let it happen!

THE ENLARGEMENT OF MILTON SEAMAN RESERVOIR

John G. Gauthiere, P.E./Greeley Tribune Guest Commentary 9/30/2020

The City of Greeley (COG) is in jeopardy of losing the opportunity to acquire new high-quality water supply and drought protection through the enlargement of Milton Seaman Reservoir (MSR).  The Greeley Water and Sewer Department staff has paused progress on the U S Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) permitting process that would allow the enlargement of MSR from its existing 5,000 acre-feet to  53,000 acre-feet.

The USACE requires alternatives to be considered  before a permit is issued for the enlargement of MSR, but a pause in the permitting process is not required while the City of Greeley considers alternatives to supply water to Greeley. 

The alternative the COG is looking at is a major departure in Greeley’s historic and successful surface water acquisition program.  The COG Water and Sewer Board has entered into an extremely complicated agreement with Wingfoot, LLC to purchase credits in an aquifer at Terry Ranch near the Wyoming border.  This agreement allows a seven-month diligence period which ends in January 2021, at which time the Greeley City Council will vote to approve or disapprove the agreement.

Greeley has been successfully developing and acquiring surface water supplies since 1907.  This surface water, which recently won a national award for the best tasting drinking water in the nation, is brought to us courtesy of snow melt in our beautiful Rocky Mountains.  It enters the Poudre River and flows to  five high mountain reservoirs and MSR where it is stored, or continues flowing to the Bellvue Water Treatment Plant where it is treated and flows by gravity to Greeley and other neighboring communities like Evans, Windsor and Milliken.

The Terry Ranch aquifer alternative is particularly complicated.  Ground water contains a variety of contaminants.  Some of these can be uranium, arsenic, and manganese.  As you may recall, the citizens of Nunn, 20 miles north of Greeley, successfully fought to prevent a uranium mine near their town.  In fact, some of the test wells drilled on the proposed future ground water source for Greeley showed the presence of abundant uranium.  The presence of uranium and various other contaminants will complicate the water treatment process to an astronomical degree and be many times more expensive.

The danger in stopping the permitting process for MSR is that it shows a lack of diligence in perfecting the conditional enlargement decree the COG has on MSR.  This means that the COG is not making progress in putting to beneficial use the conditional decree that it has.  The State of Colorado will interpret this as an abandonment of the conditional decree of 10,000 acre-feet additional storage in MSR. 

The enlargement of MSR to 53,000 acre-feet is a very feasible project.  Recent construction cost estimates for MSR enlargement indicate that the cost per acre-foot of water storage is around $2,000 per acre-foot.  This is very economical compared to the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s (NCWCD) excellent ongoing Chimney Hollow Dam Project which is estimated to cost $4,440 per acre-foot of storage.

The enlargement of MSR would also provide drought storage for other water owned by the COG.  MSR could provide about two years of storage for Greeley water customers during a prolonged drought.

NCWCD’s NISP Project and Fort Collins’ Halligan Reservoir Enlargement Project are in the last stages of their permitting process.  Greeley is lagging far behind.  It is in the best interests of all Greeley water customers for the COG Water Department staff to restart the permitting process and make a diligent effort to achieve this goal. 

SAVE GREELEY’S WATER

Mary Gauthiere/Greeley Tribune 9/19/2020

Since 1907 Greeley has enjoyed plentiful surface water rights in the Poudre River Basin.  Greeley water users have enjoyed the purest water in the nation, thanks to the wisdom of our forefathers.  Greeley’s water starts as snowmelt, drains into the Poudre River and travels to the Bellvue Water Treatment Plant where it is treated and flows by gravity to Greeley.  If the water is not needed for immediate use, it is stored in five high mountain reservoirs and Milton Seaman Reservoir until it is needed.

Recently the Greeley Water Board signed an agreement which, if agreed upon by the Greeley City Council in just a few months, will abandon a large portion of the water storage rights in Milton Seaman Reservoir for an elaborate scheme to buy credits in an underground aquifer, Terry Ranch, with proven uranium contamination.

With approval of this agreement by City Council, Greeley will abandon the permitting process with the Corps of Engineers which would allow the enlargement of Milton Seaman Reservoir to accommodate drought storage from the Poudre or other water sources.  The enlargement of Milton Seaman Reservoir also allows for the perfection of a conditional 10,000 acre-foot water right decree for future growth.  Furthermore, this scheme will forever restrict, under threat of default and other damages, Greeley’s acquisition of new water from any source other than the Terry Ranch aquifer.

The company bringing this “opportunity” to Greeley, Wingfoot, LLC., will share in the revenue Greeley generates from selling water from the aquifer.

This does not seem to be keeping with our forefather’s intentions to have the purist water available for the citizens of Greeley, Evans, Windsor, and other surrounding communities.

Please let our Greeley leaders know how you feel about the Wingfoot “scheme”.  Go to greeleygov.com for contact information.

The Burden of Knowledge

Ignorance is bliss.  Sometimes it’s easier not to know.  Sometimes it’s easier just to live life for today and not worry about the future. 

The problem with knowledge is that once it is acquired, it is not easily abandoned unless it is proven to be outdated or inaccurate.

You might ask, “what does this discussion have to do with Greeley’s water system?”  Actually, it has a lot to do with it!

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your outlook, John Gauthiere has tremendous knowledge of Greeley’s water system.  And it is a “burden” as he sees the City of Greeley moving in the wrong direction regarding our future water supply and feels he must do something about it.

John is a Registered Professional Engineer in Colorado, Wyoming and Texas and has 50 years of experience in the water industry.  He is President and Owner of Gauthiere Engineering, Inc. for the past 19 years. John has served in various positions in the City of Greeley Water & Sewer Department:  Administrative Engineer, Operations Manager, Manager of Engineering & Planning and Acting Water & Sewer Director, during his time with the City between 1979 and 2001.  He served on the Board of Directors of many of the regions larger ditch and reservoir companies such as GLIC and SLRC.   

Shortly after John started working for Greeley, he discovered  problems with the newly constructed Gold Hill Reservoir. The post tension concrete roof, the size of two football fields, was failing due to design and construction errors. John was the project manager on the redesign and reconstruction of the reservoir.  The Gold Hill Rehabilitation Project won both an AGC Award and an ACEC Award for excellence.

John was in charge of the High Mountain Dam Rehabilitation Project which resulted in an Award of Excellence for Dam Safety from the State Engineer’s Office. He oversaw the enlargement of the Milton Seaman Reservoir Spillway and twice repaired the gate structures, a task that needs to be done about every ten years.  He also put together an industrial grade dive team of Water Department Employees to inspect and maintain Greeley’s Underwater Assets, thus saving the City of Greeley hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years.  

John organized the finances of the Water Department to provide adequate funding for short and long term goals and objectives.  He provided state of the art water rate analysis to meet the City Charter’s financial requirements which included establishing a properly funded Water Rights Acquisition Fund, a Capital Replacement Fund, and a Capital Improvement Construction Fund.  John, along with W. D. Farr, on behalf of the City of Greeley, purchased  a tremendous number of water rights from the surrounding agricultural community in a buy and lease back agreement which allowed the farms to keep operating in what was a very bad economic time. This action also prevented a raid by thirsty Denver Metro area water providers on water rights in Weld County. 

Because of all of this acquired knowledge, it is impossible for John to just sit back and let bad things happen to Greeley.  He cares about Greeley, its citizens, and its incredibly efficient water delivery system.

The Water & Sewer Staff and the Water & Sewer Board have decided that the Milton Seaman Reservoir will never be enlarged to protect our water assets.  Instead, the Greeley Water & Sewer Board has signed an agreement with Wingfoot Water Resources, LLC, which could send uranium laden drinking water from the Terry Ranch groundwater aquifer to Greeley.  The Cheyenne Basin is a uranium containing aquifer.  Water drawn from the aquifer will undoubtedly be contaminated by uranium.  This is unacceptable to Greeley water customers!

John recently had breakfast with two Water & Sewer Board members.  When John asked where the Terry Ranch opportunity came from, Chairman Harold Evans shared that the Akin family brought this opportunity to Greeley  in hopes of attaining a “long term income stream” for their family.  When asked why the 40 mile pipeline from Windsor to Terry Ranch needs to be built right away,  Bob Ruyle said that “someone else may need the water”.  These are very curious reasons for putting this “burden” on Greeley water customers!

Do Greeley water customers really need to accommodate a wealthy family, by taking our drinking water from a questionable water source, which will be less pure and more costly to treat than the water we already have?  And who is this “someone else” who may need the water?

These are questions that must be answered before Greeley water customers can accept the “burden” and the loss of our peace of mind that will occur when we allow our water source and delivery system to be altered in such a drastic way. 

City Leaders should understand that this is one of those things that the City of Greeley just can’t come back from!