Greeley Water Pipeline
The Greeley Water and Sewer Department is building a 30-mile, 60-inch diameter pipeline that will transport drinking water from its Bellvue Water Treatment Plant northwest of Fort Collins to Greeley . The pipeline will add capacity to Greeley 's existing lines in the area, originally built between 1907 and 1952. The project began in 2003 and is being completed in several segments with a projected completion date of 2013. Currently, two-thirds of the project is complete, with 18.7 miles of pipe in the ground and in use.
The Northern Segment is the next segment to be constructed and the final segment located in Larimer County. This segment begins near North Shields Street in Fort Collins and connects to the Bellvue Filter Plant. To date, Greeley has acquired on a voluntary basis three-quarters of the easements necessary (26,267 linear feet of right-of-way) for the Northern Segment. This represents 81% of the land needed to construct this portion of the pipeline. Greeley has completed final design of this segment and contractors are now pre-qualified to perform construction.
As it did with other segments of the pipeline project, Greeley requested verification of coverage under a Nationwide Permit for utility lines from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As a part of its evaluation, the Corps requested information on cultural resources, threatened and endangered species, and the depletive effects of the project on the Poudre River.
Greeley provided all necessary information regarding cultural resources and the required consultation under the National Historic Preservation Act is now complete. Additionally, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service recently issued its Biological Opinion on the Northern Segment. The Service found that the pipeline is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse, or destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. This successfully concludes the Endangered Species Act consultation for the Northern Segment. Greeley continues to work with the Corps regarding the depletive effects of the project.
Greeley has the financial capacity to complete, operate, and maintain this pipeline. Standard and Poor's Rating Service (S&P) recently increased Greeley's water revenue bond rating from AA- to AA. This is largely based on continued and projected debt service coverage that S&P considers strong, and maintenance of cash and investments. Other factors that helped Greeley's rating increase include a diverse ratepayer base, affordable rates, a good portfolio of existing water rights, and limited additional debt plans.
Frequently Asked Questions
Northern Segment Alternatives
Complete Project Map
Pipeline Before and After Photos
Best Management Practices Manual (pdf)
Presentation from 6/13/11 Meeting (pdf)
Greeley Water Pipeline Frequently Asked Questions
- Why is Greeley building a new pipeline through Northern Colorado?
Greeley’s population is growing and, therefore, water demand is increasing. To provide drinking water to this anticipated population, Greeley is building the first new pipeline from its Bellvue Water Treatment Plant in over 50 years. This new 60-inch pipeline will supplement the two, and in places three, existing 27-inch pipelines. The upgraded water transmission system is needed to meet demands within the service area of the City of Greeley and to meet some of the demands of Windsor, Evans, and Milliken pursuant to outside water service contracts.
- Why doesn't Greeley build a new water treatment plant closer to the City?
Greeley evaluated many options for expanding water treatment capacity, including building an additional plant in town. The analysis determined that using and upgrading the Bellvue Water Treatment Plant and transmission system, which has been operating since 1907, was in the community's best interest based on cost, water quality, water rights, and environmental concerns.
- Who is funding this project?
This project is completely funded by the City of Greeley ratepayers with possible grants to help manage any impacts to historic sites. No federal funds are involved.
- Does this project impact Larimer County water supply or development?
No. Greeley has separate water rights and a separate water system. This project does not promote growth or development in Larimer County.
- Who at Greeley can affected parties contact to discuss their concerns regarding the project?
Greeley supports an open and honest dialogue regarding this project and takes all citizen inquiries and comments seriously. The Greeley Water and Sewer Board is the ultimate governing board regarding the City's decisions on the project. Interested parties should contact Jon Monson, Greeley Water and Sewer Director, at 970-350-9820 or Dan Moore, Project Manager, at 970-350-9814 for more information or to express concerns.
- Does Greeley coordinate with local jurisdictions and collect public input?
Yes. The Larimer County Planning Commission, the Laporte Area Planning Advisory Committee, the City of Fort Collins Planning and Zoning Board, Weld County, and the Windsor Board of Trustees have either commented on or approved portions of the project. Greeley also hosted open house meetings in Fort Collins and Laporte to get feedback from local residents. Click to view the timeline that documents all community outreach efforts and other project milestones. Specifically for the Northern Segment, Greeley met with the Laporte Area Planning Advisory Committee in September 2007 to solicit comments and feedback. Greeley sent written invitations to 29 potentially affected property owners to attend an October 2007 open house. Both the LAPAC meeting and open house were covered in the local media. In addition, Greeley staff met with many landowners in the route corridor throughout the summer of 2007.
- Did Greeley contact potentially affected property owners?
During the evaluation process, many property owners throughout the area were contacted to gather information. Property owners who were located along the proposed route were notified or contacted specifically since they would be directly impacted by pipeline construction. It would have been unwieldy and unnecessarily disruptive to contact all property owners on the dozens of preliminary routes.
- How were the routes selected?
The City evaluated dozens of possible routes between the beginning and ends of the pipeline. Each route was analyzed and ranked by cost, environmental impacts, private property impacts, and public land use disruption (such as disruption to schools, traffic, utilities, businesses, and the general public) among other things. Greeley proposed a route corridor that scored the highest taking all these factors into account. The Larimer County Planning Commission approved the location and extent of this route.
- Why not utilize the existing pipeline route?
Where possible, Greeley follows existing utility or transportation corridors including existing pipeline routes to minimize disruption to nearby properties. Unfortunately, since the time Greeley installed its last Bellvue pipeline in the early 1950s, homes, schools, roads and other utilities have been built in the area, making it impossible to utilize the existing pipeline corridor in some areas.
- Can Greeley choose a different route that would require pumping water?
Certain routes would require pumping instead of letting the water flow by gravity. The energy consumed by pumping was one of the factors considered in the route analysis. Pumping water uses large amounts of energy and thus would increase Greeley’s carbon footprint. Cost and reliability factors also strongly disfavor a pumping alternative. As a result, Greeley uses gravity to transport water to the City whenever possible. Greeley has relied on gravity for its Bellvue transmission lines for over 100 years.
- Are affected property owners compensated?
Both the United States and Colorado constitutions require Greeley to compensate landowners for temporary or permanent use of their properties. Accordingly, Greeley pays landowners for the fair-market value for both temporary (for example, easements for surveying or construction) and permanent easements across their properties. Greeley also compensates landowners for any damages caused by Greeley’s use of the property.
- How is the easement value determined?
Greeley offers to acquire the necessary pipeline easements at a price based upon the opinions of a real estate appraiser. Greeley then considers any credible information provided by the landowner concerning the value of the easements and impacts of the acquisition on the value of the landowner’s remaining property. Greeley has power of condemnation if an agreement cannot be reached on the acquisition. In that case, a court-appointed jury or commission of landowners determines just compensation. In the vast majority of cases, however, Greeley and the property owner agree on a value outside of court.
After construction of the pipeline, what are the long-term impacts to the property?
|River crossing at the Chimney Park Segment, near Windsor, two years after construction. |
|An example of an agricultural area after pipeline construction. |
|Turf area after pipeline construction and restoration.|
Once the pipeline is installed and the ground surface is restored, the pipeline is typically unnoticeable. The easement agreement prohibits the property owner from constructing buildings or structures, impounding water, and planting large trees over the pipeline. However, with the consent of Greeley, utility crossings, roads, driveways, parking lots, and open space areas are usually permissible. Property owners are paid a fair market value for temporary and permanent use of their property.
- What surface restoration measures will be provided to property owners?
Greeley restores the surface of the ground, fences, roads and other improvements to the conditions existing prior to the City's activities on the property. Greeley's experience along the earlier phases of the pipeline has shown consistent success in restoring and reclaiming affected areas following construction. Greeley is also following a set of Best Management Practices submitted to Larimer County as part of its approval of the Northern Segment.
- How long does it typically take to construct a segment?
Typical construction pace for the pipeline installation varies from about 100 to 200 feet per day depending on the complexity of construction. This means it may take one or two days for installation to pass by a residence. Full restoration of the surface for things like pavement, sidewalks and landscaping takes additional time, but are always accomplished as quickly as possible.
- How will construction of the Northern Segment impact the Cache la Poudre River ?
The approved route for the Northern Segment has one direct crossing of the Poudre River. Based on a previous river crossing in Weld County, the pipeline is expected to result in minimal and temporary impacts. Greeley will restore the site once the pipe is laid.
- Will the pipeline interrupt groundwater flow?
No. The project is designed to allow water to flow freely past the pipe in areas with a high groundwater table. Trench plugs are used to assure that groundwater will continue to flow across the pipe and not along the trench.
- Will the pipeline affect the historic properties in the area?
The approved route through Laporte is along the abandoned rail bed of the Greeley, Salt Lake & Pacific Railroad. Utilizing the area previously disturbed by the old rail bed construction helps minimize new environmental impacts. Greeley is aware of the historic designation and significance of this railroad. Greeley will work with property owners, community members and the relevant state and federal agencies to assess any potential impacts to the historic structures. If there are going to be any adverse impacts to the structures, Greeley will seek ways to avoid, minimize, or mitigate these impacts.
- Will the pipeline have an adverse affect on endangered or rare animals or plants?
The Northern Segment of Greeley's pipeline could pass through areas with potential habitat for the Preble's meadow jumping mouse, the Ute ladies'-tresses orchid and the Colorado butterfly plant. There could also be raptors nesting in the area. Greeley anticipates that it will address Preble's mouse and raptor concerns largely through seasonal timing of construction and avoidance of potential habitat. Based on past experience, Greeley does not expect the Ute ladies'-tresses orchid or the Colorado butterfly plant to be present in the construction area, but will mitigate impacts if necessary.
- Will the approved route result in significant road closures or utility disruptions?
No. Some short-term road closures and utility disruptions may be necessary depending on the final pipeline alignment. Roads are crossed in a variety of ways, but closures typically do not last more than several days and an alternative route will be provided. The selected route crosses few streets and utility lines, therefore disruptions will be minimal.
For the last 100 years, the City of Greeley 's Bellvue Water Treatment plant at the mouth of the Poudre Canyon has treated drinking water for Greeley. The pipeline delivers drinking water from the plant to the city and is integral to ensuring a reliable water supply for Greeley water customers. Today, Greeley is building a new 30-mile, 60-inch pipeline to supplement the existing pipelines to accommodate the water demands of anticipated population growth.
To build this pipeline, Greeley conducted extensive engineering studies to determine a route that would have the least impact and would ensure that the water could flow by gravity. Gravity flow eliminates the need for expensive, power-consuming pumping facilities. Because this route goes through the cities of Fort Collins, Windsor, and Laporte, as well as unincorporated sections of Larimer and Weld counties, Greeley conducted an extensive public outreach effort to ensure that the concerns of residents and city and county government officials would be heard and addressed.
The pipeline is being built in five segments. A segment may be broken up into several phases. Below is the chronology of the pipeline through the fall of 2010. As of the fall of 2010, approximately two thirds of the pipeline has been built.
- December 17, 2002 – Design work on the pipeline begins and the design engineer is hired.
- April 13, 2003 – The Windsor Board of Trustees approves the Utility Plan Review of the Chimney Park Segment.
- July 24, 2004 – The Windsor Board of Trustees approves the Utility Plan Review of the Farmer's Segment.
- September 14, 2004 – The Larimer County Planning Commission approves the location and extent of the Farmer's Segment.
- November 29, 2004 – The Chimney Park Segment that runs through the town of Windsor is completed and put in service.
- May 26, 2005 – Greeley holds an Open House with residents of Fort Collins to inform them of the location and extent of the Fort Collins Segment and to solicit their concerns and input.
- June 15, 2005 – The Larimer County Planning Commission approves the location and extent of the Fort Collins Segment.
- June 16, 2005 – The City of Fort Collins Planning and Zoning Board approves the location and extent of the Fort Collins Segment.
- February 22, 2006 – The Farmer's Segment is completed and put in service.
- September 18, 2007 – Greeley briefs the Laporte Area Planning Advisory Committee (LAPAC) on the location and extent of the Northern Segment . LAPAC prepared comments that were forwarded to the Larimer County Planning Commission.
- October 2, 2007 – Greeley holds an Open House with the residents of Laporte to inform them of the location and extent of the Northern Segment and to solicit their concerns and input.
- October 17, 2007 – The Larimer County Planning Commission approves the location and extent of the Northern Segment.
- March 7, 2008 – The first phase of the Fort Collins Segment, the Mulberry Phase, is completed and put in service.
- December 16, 2008 – Construction of the second phase of the Fort Collins Segment, the Vine Drive Phase, begins.
- August 10, 2009 – Settlement reached with several Laporte area landowners that allowed Greeley access to their properties to gather biological, historical, and geotechnical data.
- August 20, 2009 – Site visit and tour of Point of Rocks area with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, State Historic Preservation Office, City of Greeley representatives, Point of Rocks area property owners and other interested parties.
- September 29-October 1, 2009 – Cultural resource survey performed for Point of Rocks area.
- Fall 2009 - Vine Drive Phase construction completed.
- November 2009 – Water Department staff and consultants finalize an alignment that avoids the historic bridges located within the Larimer County approved Northern Segment route.
- December 2009 – Preliminary alignment maps sent to Point of Rocks area property owners.
- Winter 2010 – Construction of the third phase of the Fort Collins Segment, the UP Railroad Phase, begins.
- April 2010 – Water Department staff begin sending easement offers to Northern Segment property owners.
- April and September 2010 – Cultural resource surveys performed on remaining acreage of Northern Segment.
- September 2010 -- Report detailing the findings of the Point of Rocks area cultural resource survey sent to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for review.
- Fall 2010 – UP Railroad Phase construction completed.
- December 2010 – Biological Assessment sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for review.
- January 2011 -- Report detailing the findings of the cultural resource surveys performed on the remainder of the Northern Segment sent to U.S. Corps of Engineers for review.
- Fall 2012 - Construction of the Northern Segment to begin.
- 2013– Construction of the Northern Segment to be complete.
- To be determined - Construction of the Gold Hill Segment to be complete, thus completing all construction of the new pipeline.
Northern Segment Alternatives
The City of Greeley evaluated dozens of possible alternatives to make the final six mile connection between the end of the existing pipe at Shields Street in Fort Collins and the Bellvue Water Treatment Plant at the mouth of the Poudre Canyon. The various alternatives were eventually combined into 18 different possible pipeline routes. Each of the 18 routes was then ranked by cost, land use disruption, and environmental effects (e.g. aquatic resources, Preble's mouse, raptors, forest, with historic sites noted). Based on this evaluation, Greeley narrowed the 18 possible routes:
The alternative selected by Greeley and approved by the Larimer County Planning Commission would affect the fewest parcels of land – 28, would cause the least amount of public disruption (i.e., road and driveway closures during construction), and would allow Greeley to utilize gravity to transport water – thus saving on power costs and reducing Greeley’s carbon footprint. The approved alternative follows Greeley’s existing pipeline for approximately two-thirds of the Northern Segment. It then follows existing railroad right-of-way for much of the remainder of the segment.
Northern Parallel Alternative
This alternative was one of the first evaluated because we wanted to find corridors that were previously used. This alternative parallels our existing pipeline for a great majority of the Northern Segment. It was eliminated because during our evaluation we found that we do not have sufficient easement to construct another pipeline parallel to our existing one without impacting dozens of private properties. Since the existing pipeline was constructed in 1952 the Cache La Poudre Schools and significant housing developments were built on both sides of the pipeline along both Vernon Drive and Shannon Drive – click here to see a detailed map of this section. This alternative would affect 65 parcels of land, twice as many as the approved alternative.
The 54-G alternative follows the existing pipeline for about a third of the Northern Segment and then follows along County Road (CR) 54-G for most of the remainder of the segment. This route would cause the greatest amount of public disruption as it would cause substantial road closures along 54-G, Laporte’s main transportation artery, for almost a year. It also would affect 153 parcels of land in the business district and surrounding residential areas, five times as many as the approved alternative.
Complete Project Map
The Bellvue pipeline roughly follows the Poudre River corridor from the Bellvue Water Treatment Plant northwest of Laporte in Larimer County to the City of Greeley.
Click the map to open a larger pdf file.