There has been a lot of concern about the City of Greeley’s move to add a different source of water, especially in the middle of attempting to permit an enlargement of Milton Seaman Reservoir.
The city has no plans to abandon the existing Milton Seaman Reservoir. The city needs all of its water resources and will continue to use existing water supplies for its citizens. Terry Ranch will be
used only as a drought-supply. In wet years, it will store water in preparation for those future droughts. Terry Ranch will act like an insurance policy in the face of drought.
Through the permitting process on Milton Seaman, the city has learned several items about the expansion that are problematic:
- First, cost. The costs to expand the reservoir mean building a new damn that could cost over $500 million, and that doesn’t include the water rights to fill that extra space in the reservoir. Financing a project that large would mean immediate
and massive increases in water costs to Greeley customers. Terry Ranch is less expensive and can be built in phases, helping to keep water rates low.
- Enlarging this reservoir on the North Fork of the Cache La Poudre River requires a variety of federal, state, and county permits. The city has been engaged in the federal National Environmental Policy Act permitting process to allow the reservoir's
expansion since 2006. Federal permitting has been a long, arduous, and expensive process, and final authorization appears unlikely.
- Because it is a surface reservoir, the enlarged Milton Seaman would lose through evaporation enough water to service 3,200 homes a year in Greeley. Terry Ranch is an underground storage space, and will not lose anything to evaporation. It is a deep and isolated pocket of water.
- Milton Seaman, as with other reservoirs in Greeley’s portfolio, are currently facing at threat of forest fire runoff. Terry Ranch, on the other hand, will not be impacted by surface runoff.