Fort Collins Weekly

Applegate Deceives Taxpayers
By Gary Wockner

Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act. -- George Orwell

In the context of the proposed Glade Reservoir on the Cache la Poudre River, Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District board chair, Mike Applegate, started out his column in last week's Weekly by saying: "Northern Colorado is in danger of losing a piece of its history."

To that, I say: A-men.

In fact, we're in danger of losing two pieces of our local history: first, the Cache la Poudre River, and second, honesty and fiscal responsibility in government.

Applegate makes several claims about the Cache la Poudre River that are irrelevant, purposely deceptive, or simply false. Below are his bullet points, and my rebuttal.

Applegate Point 1: "More than 90 percent of the Poudre above the canyon mouth is designated as Wild and Scenic. This protects habitat and recreation within Poudre Canyon."

Wockner Rebuttal 1: Only about thirty percent of the three forks of the Poudre are protected by the Wild and Scenic river designation above the canyon mouth, but that is beside the point. The proposed Glade Reservoir would drain water out of the river below the canyon mouth through Fort Collins and Windsor, all the way to the confluence with the South Platte beyond Greeley. Applegate's point is irrelevant.

Applegate Point 2: "There would be no dam on the Poudre. Glade Reservoir is located off-stream on undeveloped land already owned by the District."

Wockner Rebuttal 2: This is another irrelevant and deceptive statement. Whether you dam the Poudre or drain the water out of it and pump it (at great expense) into a nearby reservoir, the net impact is the same. More than sixty miles of the Poudre from the canyon mouth to the South Platte would be severely degraded and more frequently dry. And let me make the point here that the "District" is a taxpayer-funded public agency. It does not "own" the land any more than the Park Service owns Rocky Mountain National Park -- we, the taxpayers, "own" that land. We bought it, and we authorize the District to manage it for us.

Applegate Point 3: "In-stream flow requirements guarantee that a new project will not dry up the river."

Wockner Rebuttal 3: This is a false statement and District knows it. For a fact, just last week I had a meeting with the Mayor of Fort Collins and the Director of the Fort Collins Water Utility. In the Director's words, this instream flow requirement is "very small, is a very junior water right, is only in two short stretches of the Poudre in Fort Collins, and is not enforced." Moreover, the Poudre is already frequently dry. Please visit SaveThePoudre.Org and click on "The Dam Truth" to view a photo and map of just some of the dry-ups that already occur.

Applegate Point 4: "The majority of water to be stored in Glade Reservoir comes from exchanges with century-old river diversions. The reservoir would fill with water that's already being diverted from the Poudre."

Wockner Rebuttal 4: This is a deceptive and false statement. The truth is that if this dam is built, approximately 40,000 acre-feet of water (that's over 13 billion gallons) per year would no longer flow through Fort Collins.

Applegate Point 5: "Without NISP, the 16 participants would build separate projects instead of pooling their resources, which would be more harmful to our environment."

Wockner Rebuttal 5: I beg to differ. For the hundreds-of-thousands of citizens in Fort Collins, Windsor, and Greeley who live by and enjoy the Poudre River, the harm to the river from the proposed NISP/Glade project would be devastating.

Which leads me back to the second piece of local history we're in danger of losing: honesty and fiscal responsibility in government. The District has a budget of $26 million/year, a "public information" budget of $500,000/year, and is positioning itself to build and manage a project that will cost nearly $1 billion dollars of taxpayer money. Why is the District's board chair spreading irrelevant, misleading, and patently false information to the public?

Just what, Mr. Applegate, are you trying to sell us -- a sustainable responsible future, or a used car?

Gary Wockner, PhD, ( is a writer and ecologist in Fort Collins.