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Why Enlarge Halligan?#

Planning for the Future#

Fort Collins

City of Fort Collins

Over the years, careful planning has provided a water supply system that balances available water supplies with the water needs of Fort Collins Utilities’ water customers. However, current supplies are not enough to meet the needs associated with projected growth within our service area without water restrictions, particularly in times of emergency, prolonged drought and uncertainties associated with climate change. Without additional storage, Fort Collins is vulnerable to reductions in water availability and delivery. 

Fort Collins Utilities designs its water supply system based on the City’s Water Supply and Demand Management Policy.

Fort Collins Utilities’ water storage per customer is low compared to other Front Range water providers. Currently, Utilities owns very little storage (only 7,100 acre-feet at Joe Wright Reservoir). Existing storage facilities are not adequate to store water supply from times of plenty for times of need (for example, from wet years into drought years). Currently, we have more water rights than we can store, so that water runs downstream unused.

Over the last decade, Utilities has explored many storage options. Careful planning and analyses have determined that enlarging Halligan is the most cost-effective solution that balances environmental enhancements and providing a secure water supply.

Will Conservation Eliminate the Need?#

Water Piggy Bank

The good news is that conservation has lowered Fort Collins’ per person water use. Unfortunately, we can’t conserve away all the future risks to our water supply system. 

Water storage is like a savings account for the future, except our current savings account has a cap. Even if we conserve water and fill our existing storage to the maximum, it still won’t be enough in the event of a long drought, especially as the population of Fort Collins Utilities’ service area grows.

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Significant Disruptions to the City's Water Supply System (1976-Present)

Year Event


Big Thompson Flood destroyed Horsetooth Reservoir supply pipeline.


Soldier Canyon Dam landslide buried City water intake structure.


Pipeline leak shut down Poudre River supply.


Picnic Rock fire threatened the quality of water in Poudre River.


Two asphalt trucks crashed and spilled into the river in a 9-day span.


High Park Fire impacts to Poudre River water quality. Poudre River supply shut down for over 100 days in 2012 during and after the fires. Poudre River supply continues to be impacted following rain events over fire‐impacted areas.


Flooding temporarily shut down Poudre River supply.


Repairs were made to the outlet that provides water from Horsetooth Reservoir to the City's Water Treatment Facility. This, in addition to drought and a wildfire in the Poudre watershed, resulted in water restrictions while the maintenance was performed on the outlet.


Following the Cameron Peak Wildfire in 2020, there was significant concern about the quality of the source water on the Poudre River, creating a Water Shortage Watch for Utilities' customers.