Skip to main content


2020 Wildfire Impacts on Water Quality#

Watershed Specialist Jared Heath collecting water quality samples at Chambers Lake.

Watershed Specialist Jared Heath collecting water quality samples at Chambers Lake on Oct. 20.

Wildfires, including the Cameron Peak Fire, have burned in our watershed and are very close to some of our water supply infrastructure.

Fort Collins Utilities is responsible for providing safe and reliable water service to our customers. Utilities’ drinking water meets, and consistently exceeds, the standards established under the Safe Drinking Water Act.   

Utilities is keeping a close watch on the fire and its potential impacts on water quality in the Poudre River. As of Oct. 21, the fire is just over 206,000 acres and 52% contained. Our community is doing a great job at limiting water use during HOP, but we still need your help. As the fire continues to evolve and we see the potential for Highway 14 to reopen, we ask that you only drive up the Poudre River if necessary in an effort to protect our current primary water source. 

To view the information that Utilities staff presented to City Council on Oct. 13 about water quality and the Cameron Peak Fire, see the work session item description, PowerPoint slides and the video of the work session.

For information about air quality in Fort Collins, visit the City's air quality page. 

If you are interested in donating money or time to help with recovery, please click here.

Regional Collaboration#

Until the fire is contained, assessments of the severity of the burn cannot be evaluated. We are making plans with regional teams so we can be ready when these assessments are available. Next steps are to meet with Greeley, the Tri-Districts, Larimer County, the U.S. Forest Service, non-profit watershed groups and other water providers to begin coordination and establish common priorities for restoration and recovery.

View a map of Northern Colorado water districts

Smoke and flame from the Cameron Peak Fire on Hwy 14.

Smoke and flame from the Cameron Peak Fire on Hwy 14.

Burn in mixed conifer trees (Aug. 29, 2020)

Cache la Poudre River (Aug. 29, 2020)

Cache la Poudre River (Aug. 29, 2020)

Cameron Peak Fire

Cameron Peak Fire

Burn around Chambers Lake

Smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire.

Smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire.

High Park Fire burn scar, steep terrain (Aug. 29, 2020)

Near Petersen Lake (Aug. 29, 2020)

Near Petersen Lake (Aug. 29, 2020)

Petersen Lake (Aug. 29, 2020)

Rain and hail fall near Joe Wright Reservoir

Rain on burned timber

Horsetooth Outlet Project (HOP)#

Help During HOP - stop outdoor water use Oct. 1

To help maintain our water sources and distribution system, infrastructure maintenance is necessary. At this time, the Horsetooth Outlet Project (HOP), an infrastructure maintenance project that will limit access to reservoir water for 6-8 weeks, will begin in October.

Fort Collins receives its water from two sources, the Cache la Poudre River and Horsetooth Reservoir. We have two separate water supplies, which allows us the flexibility to maintain our water system in the event of water quality or infrastructure problems at the source. Utilities also has two early-warning water quality alert systems in place on the Poudre to ensure that changes in water quality are detected. A pump system, along with our normal reserves of treated water, will provide security in the event the Cameron Peak Fire impacts water quantity, quality or delivery of Poudre water. 

By moving forward with HOP, we will be strengthening the Horsetooth Reservoir water delivery infrastructure for the future. With the recent growth of the Cameron Peak Fire, Poudre River water quality could be affected for many runoff seasons to come, making it crucial to complete the reservoir maintenance now before potential issues occur.

Last Update: 10/21/20