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Thornton decides not to appeal pipeline decision to supreme court

THORNTON — The city of Thornton has decided not to appeal to the state Supreme Court an appeals court decision that upheld Larimer County’s denial of a water pipeline permit.

Thornton, which bought farms and water rights in Larimer County in the 1980s with the intent of moving the water to the growing Denver suburb, has run up against objections to a proposed 48-inch pipeline that would convey the water from above Fort Collins east to Weld County, then south to Thornton.

The city posted a notice on its website Thursday that said, “After thorough consideration of its options, the city of Thornton has decided against filing a petition with the Colorado Supreme Court in its lawsuit against Larimer County. Thornton had sued Larimer County for denying it a permit to construct a water pipeline from the northwest area in the county east into Weld County. Thornton believes the time it would take for a potential Supreme Court action to take place is better spent engaging with Larimer County and its community on solutions amendable to the people of both jurisdictions, and trusts that will occur in a process where Larimer County does not exceed its jurisdiction and treats all parties, including Thornton, fairly, as the Colorado Court of Appeals indicated the county must.

“As demonstrated by the 43 conditions of approval Thornton had previously agreed to during the initial 1041 permit process, an agreed upon solution between Thornton and Larimer County is the preferred outcome. There is a long history of local governments in Colorado working cooperatively and agreeably on solutions for vital infrastructure projects. Thornton’s water project is included in The Colorado Water Plan and an agreement would further advance the state’s plan. Thornton looks forward to engaging with its northern neighbors on next steps and finding solutions to the benefit of the Coloradans living in both communities.”

What a negotiated settlement would look like remains to be seen. Members of the Larimer County attorney’s office did not return a call.

Todd Barnes, communications director for the city of Thornton, said that the community has been in discussions with Larimer County but has yet to reach an agreement.

“There are big ideas up there,” he said in reference to a proposal floated that would see Thornton’s water flow down the Poudre River through Fort Collins, be extracted east of Fort Collins, treated, and then piped to Thornton.

“Thornton isn’t interested in sending its water down the Poudre,” Barnes said. He previously told BizWest that concerns about contamination in taking that approach are paramount. 

He said a treatment plant large enough to handle the Thornton water makes it difficult to consider, and a place to dispose of byproducts of that treatment doesn’t exist in the region.

Source: BizWest