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Horsetooth Outlet Project (HOP) - Infrastructure Improvements

Project Overview

Horsetooth Reservoir

Did you know? Horsetooth Reservoir was built between 1946-1949 and holds up to 156,735 acre feet (51,072,250,000 gallons) of water.


In October, crews from Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Northern Water) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will begin the Horsetooth Outlet Project (HOP) to repair and upgrade the Soldier Canyon Dam outlet, a key component of our water delivery system.

HOP is a proactive and necessary maintenance project that will protect our infrastructure and water supply today and into the future. 


Who Is Impacted?

Water District Boundries

Click to enlarge.


The Soldier Canyon Dam outlet supplies water to 220,000+ people and plays an important role in our daily lives. This project reaches beyond Fort Collins Utilities' customers and will impact many of our neighboring communities, including the following districts:

Water District Boundaries

How Will HOP Affect Our Community?

Fort Collins Utilities is fortunate to receive water from two sources: Horsetooth Reservoir and the Cache la Poudre River. However, during HOP, Utilities will rely on Poudre River water supply, making it even more important to ensure our water resources are used efficiently. Starting Oct. 1, we need your help using less water so we can get the most out of our water resources. 

Learn How You Can Help


When Will HOP Begin?

Work will begin in October and is expected to last 30-45 days, likely ending in early December (weather permitting). This timing was chosen to decrease impacts to customers and landscaping and to allow time for the work to be completed before winter weather sets in. 

Prior to the start of HOP, Northern Water will gradually lower reservoir levels by releasing water to municipal, industrial and agricultural users as normal, but stopping flows into the reservoir. As a result, you may see extended beach areas by the end of summer. Lower water levels will help workers accomplish their tasks more safely. 

Water Drop

So, What Is An Outlet?

If you're wondering what an outlet is, you're not alone. To put it in simple terms, the outlet being repaired is the pipe that delivers water from Horsetooth Reservoir to Fort Collins Utilities' Water Treatment Facility and the Soldier Canyon Water Treatment Plant. Its a very valuable asset in delivering the water we drink, bathe in and use on our landscapes. 

There's a much more complicated answer that involves intake structures, conduit, control house gates, regulating gates, valves, gate chambers and stilling basins – all of which are located in a dam and are used to control water releases from a reservoir. 

What Are The Improvements?

This necessary and proactive maintenance project is one way we take steps to protect our infrastructure and water supplies today and into the future.

The maintenance will include cleaning and recoating valves and replacing rubber gate seals. Dive teams also will install new stainless steel trash racks to more efficiently prevent water-borne debris from passing through the outlet structure to the water treatment plants.

Help During HOP: Working Together to Protect Our Water System

Help During HOP: Working Together to Protect Our Water System

The best way to conserve water throughout HOP is by stopping outdoor water use Oct. 1 -- a little earlier than usual this year.


During HOP it's even more important to ensure our water resources are used efficiently. To do this, we need to reduce water use this fall.

We typically see a drop in community water use by mid-October as temperatures cool and outdoor water use stops. Our goal with HOP is to REDUCE water use to what is referred to as our 'winter level' a couple weeks earlier this year - and the best way to achieve this is to stop outdoor water use Oct. 1.

The good news is this is the tail end of the irrigation season, and depending on the weather, many systems are already turned off by this time to allow lawns to go dormant and come back healthy and strong in the spring.

What Can I Do To Help?

Beginning Oct. 1, we are asking all customers to stop outdoor water use. Let your lawn go dormant and 'chill' for the winter. Lawns will come back strong and green in the spring.

Exceptions will be made for athletic/active fields for health and safety purposes and raw (untreated) water customers because this water is not affected by HOP. Examples include city parks, golf courses, Colorado State University and schools. 

Planning ahead will make a big difference this year. To make this effort as successful as possible, we are asking residents, landscapers and the business community to schedule new landscape and grass plantings so they receive 4-6 weeks of regular watering before Oct. 1 and won't need to be watered during HOP. (See our FAQs for tips.)

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What Else Can I Do?

  • Prepare to stop outdoor water use Oct. 1.
  • Be mindful of landscape planting this summer, so you won't have to water new plantings during HOP.
  • Water trees and shrubs deeply prior to Oct. 1 (and again following HOP, if needed).
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What Will the City Do?

  • Limit outdoor water use to athletic fields and areas necessary for public safety.
  • Maximize use of raw (untreated) water on landscapes.
  • Reduce fleet vehicle washing.
  • Decrease street sweeping (though being mindful of health and safety issues). 
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Conserve All Year Long

Learn More

Project-specific questions: Northern Water or 970-416-8040.

Water conservation tips and ways to save during HOP and beyond: SE9QQGZjZ292LmNvbQ==, 970-416-8040 or use the contact form below.