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Mandatory Water Restrictions Effective Oct. 1

Posted on: Sep-15-2020

Fort Collins City Manager Darin Atteberry signed a declaration and order for mandatory action level IV water restrictions Friday, Sept. 11 pursuant to Fort Collins City Code Section 26-167(a) and the Water Shortage Action Plan (WSAP). Mandatory water restrictions will go into effect Thursday, Oct. 1 for Fort Collins Utilities water customers. For more information on the WSAP, visit

The restrictions have been enacted to avoid a water shortage due to the ongoing drought conditions, Cameron Peak Fire and infrastructure repairs known as the Horsetooth Outlet Project (HOP). The city manager will lift restrictions when they are no longer needed, expected by Nov. 30, 2020.

HOP, planned to begin in October and last 30 to 45 days, is a proactive infrastructure maintenance project on the outlet that provides water to the Fort Collins Utilities and Soldier Canyon water treatment facilities. Together, the facilities serve more than 220,000 residents and businesses in Fort Collins and the surrounding area.

At this time, HOP is moving forward as planned, strengthening the Horsetooth Reservoir water delivery infrastructure for the future. The Cameron Peak Fire could affect water quality in the Poudre River during future runoff seasons, making it even more important to complete the maintenance now.

Typically, Utilities receives about 50% of its water from Colorado-Big Thompson shares via Horsetooth Reservoir and 50% from the Cache la Poudre River. During HOP, Utilities will have limited access to water supplies in Horsetooth and will rely more heavily on the Poudre River.

If conditions during HOP – like continued drought or poor water quality due to the Cameron Peak Fire – prevent or limit the ability to deliver water from the Poudre River, a temporary backup pump system will convey water from a different Horsetooth Reservoir outlet to the Utilities Water Treatment Facility. The capacity of this backup system is expected to supply only average Utilities winter water demands, which does not include irrigation or other seasonal outdoor uses.

If water demand levels have not decreased to typical winter levels and the backup system needs to be used, there will likely be a water shortage. Outdoor water use restrictions will proactively increase Utilities’ ability to deliver full water demand, if the limited-capacity backup pump system is needed before overall demand decreases to typical winter levels.

Action level IV alternative water restrictions are reserved for unique water shortages that are not adequately addressed by the other action levels in the WSAP. Under the alternative outdoor water use restrictions, lawn watering is not allowed. Trees, gardens for food production and other landscapes may be watered by hand or drip systems.

Exceptions to the lawn watering restriction may be made for athletic/active fields for health and safety purposes and new lawn installations. Utilities customers can apply for exception permits online. For a full list of water restrictions and permits, visit

Raw (untreated) and well water is not affected by HOP and the water use restrictions do not apply. Raw water use does not affect the treated water needed during HOP and, in many cases, is privately owned water that is not regulated by Utilities. Examples of raw water irrigators include City parks, golf courses, cemeteries, the Gardens on Spring Creek, Colorado State University, schools and some homeowner associations.  

October was chosen for HOP construction so work could be completed before winter weather sets in while avoiding long-term impacts to customers and landscaping. In October, temperatures are typically cooler with more precipitation and first frosts. Most residents stop watering and blow out their irrigation systems by mid-month. With cooler temperatures and shorter days, lawns begin to go dormant and may remain green for several weeks without additional irrigation.

For updates and the latest information on HOP and water restrictions, visit, email, call 970-416-8040 or V/TDD 711.

  • Mariel Miller, Interim Water Conservation Manager
  • 970-221-6719

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