A Better Future for the Poudre River: Alternative to the Northern Integrated Supply Project

The Better Future for the Poudre River Alternative (Better Future) is an alternative to the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), water supply project proposed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Northern Water) to provide 40,000 acre-feet of water annually to help meet the future water needs of northern Colorado.

A Better Future provides water supplies sufficient to meet and exceed NISP participants’ water demands while maintaining flows critical to aquatic and riparian environments and recreational opportunities in the Cache la Poudre River (Poudre River). In contrast, NISP would divert between 43% and 48% of the remaining flows from the Poudre River each year. It offers several benefits not provided by NISP:

  • A Better Future meets the needs of NISP participants through 2060 while the NISP is designed to meet projected demands only through 2030.
  • Rather than depending on large new reservoirs and diversions, a Better Future includes a diverse supply portfolio.
  • By relying on a phased approach (i.e., increasing water supplies incrementally and avoiding large, up-front investment by participants), a Better Future provides water supply flexibility and financial risk management to communities.
  • Cooperative agreements with the agricultural community provide towns with long-term secure supplies while maintaining agricultural ownership of water.
  • The cost of NISP—in present value—is approximately $364 million. Though not directly comparable to NISP, a Better Future’s present value to provide 40,000 AF of water (NISP’s yield)—excluding some infrastructure costs—is $109 million.
  • A Better Future protects the Poudre River, wetlands, and environmental and recreational resources as well as the communities and businesses that depend on them.

“I applaud the advanced thinking that has gone into the Better Future Alternative. This report identifies innovative, workable, and viable water policy solutions that Colorado legislators and policy makers are well advised to consider today as we work to plan our water future.”
— Randy Fischer, State Representative, Colorado House District 53

Important updates from WRA’s experts – straight to your inbox.

Western Resource Advocates