Agribusiness  April 13, 2022

Northern Water to set water quota with supplies below or near normal

LOVELAND — Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District board members will decide Thursday where to set the Colorado-Big Thompson water allocation for the 2022 growing season.

Based on discussion at the annual Spring Water Users Meeting held in Loveland at the Embassy Suites Hotel Conference Center, farmers, cities and towns that rely upon the C-BT water are likely to see the allocation set at about 70%, the most common allocation in recent years.

An allocation at that level means that the owner of a share — or 1 acre-foot — of the C-BT project would be able to realize 0.7 of it. With 310,000 acre feet available in the project at 100%, a 70% allocation means that 217,000 acre feet would be available. There are 325,851 gallons in an acre foot.

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C-BT water is considered supplemental; native water supplies available on the Front Range are considered primary.

Water engineers from Northern Water and the Colorado Division of Water Resources reviewed snowpack, streamflow and reservoir levels during the spring meeting.

Corey DeAngelis, engineer with the state Division of Water Resources, said snowpack percentages are about 89% of average as of last week, with the northern mountains higher than average and the southern area lower than average. Northern Water draws a significant share of its water from the snowpack of the northern mountains.

Streamflows are average in the north; from Boulder Creek south, streamflows are below average, he said.

Of the 32 reservoirs that the division uses to measure availability of stored supply, storage is at 111% of average, or 972,971 acre feet, he said.

DeAngelis said that most reservoirs should be full going into the irrigation season, yet dry soil conditions could affect what is needed. “We’re hoping for a wet spring and summer,” he said.

Luke Shawcross, water resources manager for Northern Water, concurred with DeAngelis’ report but broke it down for the specific area that Northern Water covers.

On the Western Slope, snowpack “as of a couple of days ago” was at 90% of average, and Upper Colorado stream flows were at 87% of average. Storage in the C-BT area is at 106% of average as of April 1. “We’ve been above average for the past eight years,” Shawcross said.

Eastern Slope conditions are close to the 30-year median in the South Platte River Basin, he said, and stream flows in the east are at 94% of average. Local storage is at 99% of average.

As for the seasonal outlook, “there’s a higher probability of it being dry and warm the next three months,” he said, with windy conditions accelerating soil drying.

LOVELAND — Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District board members will decide Thursday where to set the Colorado-Big Thompson water allocation for the 2022 growing season.

Based on discussion at the annual Spring Water Users Meeting held in Loveland at the Embassy Suites Hotel Conference Center, farmers, cities and towns that rely upon the C-BT water are likely to see the allocation set at about 70%, the most common allocation in recent years.

An allocation at that level means that the owner of a share — or 1 acre-foot — of the C-BT project would be able to realize 0.7 of it. With…

Ken Amundson
Ken Amundson is managing editor of BizWest. He has lived in Loveland and reported on issues in the region since 1987. Prior to Colorado, he reported and edited for news organizations in Minnesota and Iowa. He's a parent of two and grandparent of four, all of whom make their homes on the Front Range. A news junkie at heart, he also enjoys competitive sports, especially the Rapids.
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