ARCHIVED  October 4, 2002

City restrictions kept lid on water use

Fort Collins, Loveland carry over supply for 2003

FORT COLLINS — Northern Colorado cities are declaring success with water restrictions over the summer months, making it possible to carry unused water rights into next year.

In July, the Fort Collins City Council set mandatory watering restrictions to save 10 percent on water consumption to preserve supplies for next year. Residents achieved the goal and now the city can carry over 2,800 acre-feet of water for use in 2003.

The city of Greeley needed to conserve 15 percent of typical use between July and September, and the city was on pace to meet the goal in the last week of September. Because of conservation efforts, the city used about 95 percent of the water it used in 2000, which was a similar summer of searing temperatures.

Loveland’s water restrictions allowed outdoor watering two days a week in an effort to maximize the amount the city is allowed to carry over from this summer to next. Within the first month of restrictions, residents saved 1,000 acre-feet for next year. As a result, Loveland can carry over 2,107 acre-feet for next year, the maximum allowed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

As a region, Northern Colorado residents apparently met the water conservation challenge set by respective city governments. But as the days get shorter and cooler weather sets in, city water planners are looking forward to next summer and worrying about water.

“We are convening a water-use advisory group to look at future restrictions,´ said Patty Bigner, customer-connections manager for the Fort Collins utilities department. The group will be composed of landscapers, “green” industry representatives, those with environmental concerns, water conservation specialists and a citizen at large.

According to Bigner, the board will evaluate the water situation and determine what restrictions to enact or cancel based on conditions.

Officials in Loveland are looking to the skies and to the Western Slope for water. According to Greg Dewey, a civil engineer in the city’s water-resources department, the city’s only source of stored water is the Colorado-Big Thompson project.

“When we started this season we were expecting to run out of C-BT water,” Dewey said. “Now, because of restrictions, we can carry over our maximum allotment of water allowed for next year.”

Loveland owns 10,328 units of C-BT water, which allows the city to carry over a maximum of 2,107 acre-feet for next year.

According to Dewey, Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District officials are expecting a dry year next year and depending on conditions, only allowing shareholders to use one-third of their normal allotment.

For Loveland, this means the city is allowed approximately 3,000 acre-feet of water for next year. With the city’s 2,107 acre-feet carryover, Loveland could have 5,107 acre-feet available next year, depending on conditions.

“We are hoping for a better year on the Big Thompson River,” Dewey said. The river is one of Loveland’s other major sources of water.

Like Loveland, Windsor is extremely dependent on water gathered in the C-BT project.

“We’re OK right now,´ said Dennis Wagner, director of engineering for the town of Windsor. “If things materialize like commonly predicted, it could get pretty tight.”

If next summer proves to be dry, Windsor may resort to renting water from agricultural users in the area. This summer, Windsor rented approximately 320 acre-feet of water from agricultural users in the area and paid between $150 and $300 per acre-foot.

“Right now, we are looking at some of the studies being done to increase storage of C-BT,” Wagner said.

The city is especially interested in the Northern Integrated Supply Project, which would build 40,000 acre-feet of new water storage for the area.

To participate in the project, Windsor would need to provide $56,000.

“Next year is when the rubber hits the road,” Wagner said.

At the moment, Greeley officials are reviewing this year’s water supply and restrictions and waiting to determine what restrictions to maintain.

“Basically, this past year was interesting as we progressed through it,´ said Todd Williams, water resource engineer for the city. “In early April, conditions were bad, but not horrible. Then we didn’t get much snow, and what we received sublimated into the ground. Then conditions got a lot worse than estimated.”

According to Williams, on April 1 the city had about 30,000 acre-feet in stored water. He is predicting that on April 1, 2003, the city’s stored supply will be at 19,000 acre-feet.

“So, levels could drop by approximately one-third of this year,” Williams said.

The goal of the city is to make sure it has enough water to carry through the drought by stepping up conservation efforts incrementally.

“We want to try to maintain a certain quality of life and be responsible with water restrictions,” Williams said. “We want to create a soft landing for our residents.”

Fort Collins, Loveland carry over supply for 2003

FORT COLLINS — Northern Colorado cities are declaring success with water restrictions over the summer months, making it possible to carry unused water rights into next year.

In July, the Fort Collins City Council set mandatory watering restrictions to save 10 percent on water consumption to preserve supplies for next year. Residents achieved the goal and now the city can carry over 2,800 acre-feet of water for use in 2003.

The city of Greeley needed to conserve 15 percent of typical use between July and September, and the city was on pace to meet the…

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