April 25, 2024

Northern Water, Grand County agree on water access

BERTHOUD — Grand County and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District have agreed to an operational framework that will provide Grand County with access to as much as 7,000 acre feet of additional water.

The water will be released from the Colorado-Big Thompson project and be used for stream enhancement and other purposes to benefit Grand County. The volume available for streamflow improvement will be dependent on annual river conditions and C-BT Project storage levels.

The agreement outlines a methodology to determine the water that will be available to the county each year. Water made available will be released to Willow Creek or to the Colorado River, will supplement existing flows, and could accumulate to nearly 40,000 acre feet over the course of a decade, Northern Water said in a press statement. Prior to 2005, this water was used for irrigation of hay fields near Granby. Since that time, those fields have been removed from agricultural production and converted to residential and commercial development. Without this agreement, the water would continue to be captured by the C-BT Project and available to Northern Water for uses in Northeastern Colorado.

“The Operational Framework Agreement will provide the county with an additional water management tool to improve and enhance flows on the Colorado River,” Merrit Linke, Grand County board of commissioners chair, said in a written statement. “The Colorado River is the life blood to sustaining our agriculture and recreation industries that are critically important to our local economy as well as all of the West Slope.”

Grand County and Northern Water will consult and coordinate with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation regarding the implementation of the agreement, Northern Water said.

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