Back in the 1980s, Thornton bought shares from the Water Supply and Storage Company securing access to water located in Larimer County north of Fort Collins. The purchase was made to ensure an adequate water supply for the population of Thornton which, according to census data, has grown by over 44% to almost 119,000 between 2000 and 2010.
With the current population estimated near 137,000, city officials have warned that water supplies affecting the homeowners, the businesses and the property managers Thornton encompasses will need to be upgraded by 2025.
The additional water supply isn’t needed because of overuse. As a matter of fact, the area has one of the lowest per-person water usage rates in the entire state. However, future needs must be taken into consideration, and for this reason, the Thornton Water Project design phase is set to begin this year.
The Thornton Water Project has proposed 10 scenarios to transport the water some 70 miles at a cost of about $435 million. A pipeline with a 48 inch diameter pipe could transport 40 million gallons of water per day. A corridor of between 500 and 1300 feet will be needed to house the pipeline and its related parts.
However, with almost half of the pipeline having to pass through neighboring Larimer County, officials have run into some opposition from residents of the county. A public hearing will take place at the Larimer County Planning Commission meeting on February 21. If the proposal passes there will be at least one other public consultation before the project is allowed to go ahead.
According to the Thornton Water Project plan, there will be more than 600 approvals and permits needed to complete the project. The Army Corps of Engineers have also been consulted regarding construction and will continue to be involved.
As the project is still in its design phase nothing is set in stone, but project managers state that there are no plans to implement eminent domain which is the power of the a government to require landowners to give up their property for public use. As such, the landowners and property managers Thornton contains have little to fear for the time being.