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The problem with knowledge is that once it is acquired, it is not easily abandoned unless it is proven to be outdated or inaccurate.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