Fires prompt shutdown of water flow from Western Slope to Northern Water’s Front Range reservoirs

BERTHOUD – Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District crews have shut down water movement from the Western Slope to Front Range reservoirs in response to the wildfires in Northern Colorado.

The East Troublesome, Cameron Peak, Cal Wood, and Williams Fork fires each have presented hazards to residents and watersheds in Northern Water’s boundaries or collection areas, the district said. However, water deliveries to cities and other providers continue today because of storage reservoirs on the Front Range of Northern Colorado.

“First and foremost, our hearts go out to those in the Grand Lake community who have suffered loss,” said Brad Wind, general manager of Northern Water. “Many of our employees call Grand Lake and Grand County home, and we have been part of the community since the C-BT Project was created more than 70 years ago.”

As the East Troublesome fire advanced toward Grand Lake on Wednesday, Northern Water cooperated with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to protect infrastructure of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. At 10:30 p.m., Reclamation officials closed the Adams Tunnel, which delivers water by gravity from Grand Lake to the East Slope. Shortly after that, Northern Water crews turned off the pump at Lake Granby that moves water to Shadow Mountain Reservoir and Grand Lake. In addition, control center operations were moved from Grand County to the Northern Water headquarters in Berthoud. Despite the tunnel shut-off, which is not unusual for this time of year, deliveries continue within the East Slope distribution system, the district said. 

Northern Water and Reclamation officials will continue to monitor the advancement of the wildfires in the region. Operation of the Farr Pump Plant and Adams Tunnel will resume when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

In the long term, Northern Water will assess issues such as watershed health and water quality through programs such as the C-BT Headwaters Partnership.