The Thornton City Council on Tuesday reversed a decision by Weld County, giving the suburb the ability to construct part of a $450 million water pipeline that would run from the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins to the suburb north of Denver.
Thornton invoked a state law that allows a city to contest another local government’s decision on whether a utility project can move forward — in this case, Weld County’s May 5 denial of Thornton’s proposed 72-mile-long pipe that would traverse more than 40 miles of Weld County.
Tuesday’s vote was unanimous.
But Thornton still faces an uphill battle to completing its pipeline as commissioners in Larimer County two years ago rejected a 26-mile portion of project that would run through its jurisdiction. Thornton is unable to challenge that denial in the same way it did Weld County’s denial, and instead has filed suit against Larimer County. The case is currently in front of the Colorado Court of Appeals.
Thornton purchased water rights in the Poudre River 40 years ago with the intention of accessing them as its population grew. The city now has nearly 150,000 residents but water for only 170,000 if the Poudre water can’t be obtained.
Opponents of the pipeline project say Thornton should let its shares of water flow through Fort Collins, to be taken out further downstream. But the city argues that would degrade the quality of the water it purchased years ago.
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