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Utilities

Water Supply Status#

We are committed to providing safe and reliable water to our residential and commercial customers. Utilities’ drinking water meets and consistently exceeds the standards established under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Our water supply comes from two primary sources:

  1. The Cache la Poudre River
  2. Horsetooth Reservoir via the Colorado-Big Thompson (CBT) Project

Our Watershed Program and certified Water Quality Laboratory staff conduct a range of water quality monitoring and analyses services to ensure the high-quality of our raw water supplies.

At our water treatment facility, raw (untreated) water goes through several processes that ultimately remove suspended matter and provide disinfection. Water Quality Laboratory and Water Treatment Facility staff monitor the quality of raw water entering as it enters the facility and during the treatment process. 

In addition to continuous process monitoring, the Water Quality Laboratory also completes more than 3,300 water quality tests each month to ensure our drinking water meets all applicable standards.

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Impacts to Water Supply and Water Quality#

In 2020, the City’s water supplies were severely impacted by the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome wildfires. These two wildfires are considered the two largest in Colorado history, raising significant concerns about both the availability and quality of our future raw water supplies.

Spring will bring warmer temperatures, snowmelt runoff and post-fire ash and sediment erosion from burned hillslopes, impacting our raw water supplies. The pollution impacts will continue into summer, as we transition into the monsoonal thunderstorm season.

These raw water quality challenges will coincide with higher seasonal water demands. We are actively monitoring water quality and availability to provide the highest quality water possible for our customers.

Fire-related compounds in raw water supplies can impart undesirable ‘smoky’ tastes and odors in treated water. However, we have mitigation measures in place to reduce the likelihood of these contaminants entering the water treatment facility. There also are processes in place to remove taste and odor compounds and to address other changes in quality, should they occur. The City is currently collaborating in a regional cost-share study to determine the occurrence of these compounds in our raw as well as finished water supplies.

Post-fire hillslope erosion following rain events is expected to produce flash pollution events in the Poudre River Watershed. To address these concerns, we have installed two water quality meters within the Upper Poudre to provide early-warning alerts to water treatment staff before post-fire pollution can reach our intake.

Using this system, ash and sediment-laden water can be effectively by-passed at the Poudre River supply intake until conditions improve. This alert system allows operational flexibility and enhanced management of drinking water supplies.

Due to the severity of the burn area in the Cache la Poudre River and Big Thompson watersheds, the impacts to the watershed and river quality are expected to be long-term.

We are planning for a variety of water availability scenarios, including various CBT quotas and variable amounts of water from the Poudre River, based on drought, weather and water quality conditions.

Depending on these conditions and the severity of the impacts from the wildfires, we will continue looking to the community for help reducing water use when necessary. We will keep the community updated on the status of our water resources as this situation evolves, including potential watering restrictions in 2021 and beyond.

Updates#

Running faucet

Water Availability

See how weather, drought and snowpack impact our water supplies.

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Burned forest

Post-Wildfire Watershed Recovery

After a wildfire, work needs to be done to restore watersheds to safe and healthy environments.

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Water Restrictions No Longer in Effect

Water Restrictions

Stay up to date on the status of water restrictions.

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Resources#

Poudre River

Water Shortage Scenarios

We plan for a variety of water shortage events, like drought, limitation of water supplies, or an emergency in our water distribution system.

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Low water level on Horsetooth Reservoir

Water Shortage Action Plan (WSAP)

See what tactics and restrictions customers may implement in the event of a water shortage.

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Water 101 graphic - click button for details

Water 101

Learn how our three water utilities serve the Fort Collins community.

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