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The Buck Stops Here: Part I

The Buck Stops Here

Part I: Keeping Government Out of Our Water

In Colorado and around the country, water is life for our farmers, ranchers and cities. In Northern Colorado, the lack of water is driving agriculture out of the state, harming the region's economy, and affecting the families who make their lives there.

On the first installment of The Buck Stops Here project, Congressman Ken Buck uncovers the ways in which government over-regulation and red tape harm Colorado communities. Watch the video below for the story of a local farmer forced to make big changes due to water shortages. Keep reading to learn about one of the proposed solutions and ways the federal government can help.

A Farmer's Story

Solutions to Water Storage Shortages

We must encourage government agencies to coordinate studies and streamline the approval process for water storage projects, as well as consider an overhaul of the National Environmental Policy Act.

After making the approval process more efficient, we can build more water storage in Colorado and around the country. When water districts are willing to fund their own storage projects, we need to get the federal government out of their way. An example of a self-funded water storage project facing government over-regulation is the Northern Integrated Supply Project, also known as NISP.

Check out my op-ed in the Colorado Statesman for more information.

What is NISP?

The Northern Integrated Supply Project, more commonly referred to as NISP, is a project designed to increase water storage in northern Colorado. Fifteen participating towns, cities, and water districts came together to solve their water storage crisis. Since its inception in 2004, the process has been slowed by burdensome federal government regulations. The project has already cost communities over $15 million and is increasing at the rate of over $1 million each year.

Why is NISP Taking So Long?

The National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, is at the core of NISP’s delay. NEPA outlines how the government must protect the environment during major projects. This could include highways, airports, NISP, or other federal projects. This law has required study after study, all at the expense of taxpaying participants.

In particular, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must be conducted to assess environmental impacts of the project. An EIS is required to determine how likely a project is to negatively impact the environment, and assess alternative courses of action. The Army Corps of Engineers began the EIS process in 2004. Over a decade later, participants have yet to receive the final EIS which is necessary to start construction of NISP.

Does NISP Affect Me?

Yes! Even if you don’t get your water directly from NISP, the project will supply water for farmers that provide food sold around Colorado. A lack of water would be detrimental to the Colorado farming communities that depend on the accessibility of water. Use the map below to see if your address is included in the water districts that would fall under the Northern Integrated Supply Project.

How Has a Lack of Water Impacted You?

If you live in the Fourth Congressional District and have been affected by recent drought conditions and a lack of available water, I'd like to hear your story. Please email