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Thornton pipeline project draws controversy
La Voz Photo by B. Rivera

By Joseph Rios

The city of Thornton’s population is growing, and that growth isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon. It has one of the lowest per-person water usage rates in the state, but Thornton water customers will need more water by 2025, according to the Thornton Water Project website.

Right now, a huge chunk of the city’s water comes from the South Platte River, and that water needs extensive treatment due to pollution. The solution seems clear to Thornton, and it revolves around a 70-mile pipeline from Fort Collins to Thornton. The proposed pipeline project would run underneath Douglas Road in Larimer County, and construction for the projected $430 million project could begin in 2019.

“Thornton has owned the rights to this water since the mid 1980s. The water that we planned to put in our pipeline has not gone through Fort Collins in over 100 years,” Todd Barnes, Communications Director of Thornton said. “The water that we have rights to has been used for agriculture reasons since the late 1890s. We’ve been planning to have this pipeline since the mid 1980s. We got a water decree through a court case that went all the way up to the Colorado Supreme Court.”

The only issue standing between Thornton and the water it has owned since the 1980s are some residents in the area of Douglas Road, particularly the No Pipe Dream group, a group opposed to the pipeline. Lynn Nichols is one of the founding members of the group, and she says it has grown to around 500 members.

“(The pipeline project) means a long construction area. Douglas Road is an access to 311 homes. There’s concerns about safety, as far as emergencies. There’s worries about pipe leakage. You don’t place a pipeline near or under a road. (No Pipe Dream) just all got together and figured there is a better solution,” Nichols said.

Thornton said it has done its “due diligence” and found that the pipeline can go underneath the road. Barnes said that Larimer County was already interested in making road improvements and the pipeline would be a way of doing that.

“This was a significant investment by the people and government of Thornton to bring a high quality water source to the people of Thornton so we can continue to serve the residents as the city grows,” Barnes said. “We’ve been actively listening to people’s concerns. We’ve worked to have as little impact on the community up there as far as the construction process. We will work through whatever prescribed process that (Larimer County) wants us to, and we have been.”





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