We manage drinking water from two sources:
- The Colorado-Big Thompson (CBT) Project shares via Horsetooth
- The Cache la Poudre River basin, including the Michigan Ditch and Joe Wright Reservoir system.
Colorado-Big Thompson Project (CBT)#
The CBT Project diverts water from the upper Colorado River and stores it in Lake Granby for later delivery to Carter Lake and Horsetooth Reservoir. Northern Water manages the project and sets the quota each year that determines how much water is available per share or unit. This quota significantly affects the supply available in a given year. Fort Collins Utilities currently owns 18,855 CBT units and acquires about 50% of its water supply through these shares.
Cache la Poudre River#
The amount of usable water in the Poudre River in any given year is highly variable and dependent mainly upon snowpack conditions in the 1,056-square-mile drainage area above the canyon mouth. Roughly 80% of annual Poudre runoff is from snowmelt during April to July. About 50% of our water supply comes a combination of direct flow and converted agricultural water rights on the Poudre River.
Michigan Ditch and Joe Wright Reservoir#
The Michigan Ditch and Joe Wright Reservoir system, located near Cameron Pass on Highway 14, diverts water from the Michigan River (part of the North Platte River Basin) across the divide into the Poudre River Basin and Joe Wright Reservoir. Joe Wright holds about 7,100 acre-feet of active storage and currently is the only raw water storage facility owned by Utilities that is for treated water. The reservoir is used primarily to regulate the annual Michigan Ditch flows and has limited capacity to provide drought protection for Utilities.
Watershed Monitoring Programs
The watersheds where our water comes from consist of the large areas of land that drain snowmelt and rainfall waters to the Poudre and Big Thompson rivers, Horsetooth Reservoir and other components of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. Watershed monitoring and protection involves minimizing the negative impacts to the quality of these waters from activities on both land and water.
Did You Know?
Watering in the early morning or late evening when there's less wind reduces water loss.
Information about business-related programs and rebates regularly goes out in the Keep Current e-newsletter.
Bluegrass lawns generally require 1" or more of water per week, depending on the weather.