Northern Water: Big Meadows Fire could affect water supply

The Big Meadows Fire has caught the attention of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which has concerns about the growing inferno’s potential effects on the region’s water supply.

The fire is burning approximately 5 miles north of Grand Lake, one of the lakes in the Upper Colorado River Basin from which Northern Water transports water to Front Range reservoirs as part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. That includes Horsetooth Reservoir, which makes up much of Fort Collins’ water supply.

The fire, which was started Monday by lightning, has grown to about 400 acres on the north end of Big Meadows on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park, according to the fire information website InciWeb. The blaze is burning heavy timber and moving northeast. InciWeb has described the fire’s growth potential as “extreme.”

Northern Water officials met this morning to discuss how the fire could affect the water supply and actions the agency may take if the blaze grows, spokesman Brian Werner said. Employees from its Lake Granby office are assessing the fire and the agency is in contact with officials from various other agencies.

The fire is burning near Tonahutu Creek, a drainage that feeds into Grand Lake. Northern Water already has upgraded water quality monitoring equipment in the area to determine how runoff from downpours eventually may affect the resource, Werner said.

The city of Fort Collins is concerned about the fire’s potential effect on the water supply, said Donnie Dustin, the city’s water resources manager.

“We’re kind of waiting to hear back from (Northern Water) how it might affect the supplies from that system,” he said.


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