Permitting Process Overview#
To enlarge Halligan Reservoir, the City of Fort Collins must obtain local, state and federal permits. The federal decision on whether the City will be permitted to expand Halligan Reservoir will come from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) through section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
Throughout the permitting process, the Corps works with other agencies to evaluate multiple water storage alternatives and the impacts of each alternative on the environment and community.
Once these impacts have been evaluated and summarized in the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the public will have the opportunity to review and provide input. Based on results from the permitting process, the Corps will issue a permit for one water storage option, which may or may not be the Halligan Reservoir enlargement.
- Letter of Intent (2006): Federal agencies were officially notified of the proposed construction of the Halligan Water Supply Project. The project proponents and participants were identified. Fort Collins Utilities met with the lead federal agency, the Corps, and an independent third-party consultant was selected to prepare the EIS.
- Scoping: The Corps works with the participants to develop a Purpose and Need Statement and conducts public scoping meetings to identify issues. Cooperating agencies are invited to participate in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. These include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, EPA, Bureau of Land Management, State of Colorado and Larimer County.
- Alternatives Development and Screening: A comprehensive list of alternatives to meet the project purpose and need, including a no-action alternative, are prepared. The list of alternatives is rigorously evaluated and screened through scientific environmental, engineering and economic studies. These studies are used to evaluate the affected environment, environmental consequences and mitigation measures associated with the alternatives. Reasons for eliminating alternatives are discussed. A preferred alternative, or alternatives, is described.
- Draft EIS: A draft EIS is prepared. Public notice is made and the draft EIS is distributed upon request. Public hearings are held to describe the purpose and need, alternative and environmental impacts. The Corps will receive and respond to comments on the EIS.
- Final EIS: A Biological Opinion is prepared, and the final EIS, addressing all substantial issues raised in the comments to the draft EIS, is distributed upon request. Comments are received, and the Corps responds to the comments.
- Record of Decision: The Corps issues a Record of Decision that clearly identifies its decision, discusses all factors used in reaching the decision, and includes any considerations of national policy used in making the decision. Working through the NEPA process to obtain a permit often takes 10 years or more for waters supply projects.
To view all documents relating to the Corps permitting, click here.
Following a permit from the Corps, the project requires several other permits from other federal agencies, the State of Colorado and Larimer County. Many of these permits are being pursued simultaneously.
Needed permits or approvals:
- 404 Permit – Corps
- Larimer County 1041
- 401 Certification – Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
- Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Plan – Colorado Parks & Wildlife
- Biological Opinion – U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
- Permit for Dam Construction – Colorado Division of Water Resources
- Miscellaneous permits required for construction
The federal permitting process is notorious for taking a long time – it’s already been in the works for more than a decade. This schedule is at the Corps’ discretion and is subject to change.
Factors that cause the schedule to be delayed:
- Other projects in the Poudre basin that are continuing to be refined
- Anytime new information is obtained that requires additional data collection
- The magnitude of public comments
- Staff turnover at permitting agencies and the loss of project knowledge