In the 1980’s the City of Thornton anonymously purchased most of the farmland surrounding the towns of Ault and Pierce, eventually owning about 21,000 acres of land and rights to 30,263 acre-feet of water. In a 12 year dispute that reached the Colorado Supreme Court, Thornton converted their farmland water rights from agricultural to municipal - a process known as “Buy and Dry”. Ault and Pierce are now landlocked by Thornton owned land, drying up with no room to expand.
A number of communities lie between Thornton and their water, which they plan to access via a 70 mile pipeline through those communities, tearing up our roads and land, devaluing our properties and creating large scale, protracted disruption of our neighborhoods and our lives.
Why should so many communities be expected to shoulder such a terrible burden for Thornton’s decision to purchase water many miles away from where they intended to use it? It may be too late for Pierce and Ault, but it’s not too late for us. We matter. Our homes, lives and communities matter. We are not expendable to Thornton’s Pipe Dream.
We believe the social and environmental sacrifices our communities are being expected to pay for Thornton's Pipe Dream are unconscionable. Especially because there is a choice. There is a water delivery option that would be beneficial to our communities rather than destructive.
Thornton has an unprecedented opportunity to be a good neighbor... to be an ecological hero and a leader in environmental stewardship... to change the course of the Poudre River’s history.
The Poudre River is our economic and ecological backbone. Rather than diverting water out of the Poudre, as they currently do at the Larimer County Canal, and constructing a damaging and disruptive west-east pipeline north of town, Thornton could leave the water in the Poudre until it reaches a takeout point near Windsor where the Poudre crosses their southbound pipeline. The increased water flows would be significantly beneficial to the currently ailing health of the Poudre as it runs through Fort Collins, as well as to wetlands, environmental and recreational resources and the communities and businesses that depend on them.
It’s never too late to do the right thing.
Choosing to save a river is more often an act of passion than of careful calculation. You make the choice because the river has touched your life in an intimate and irreversible way.
(David Bolling, How to Save a River: Handbook for Citizen Action)