The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Northern Water) Board of Directors voted on April 11th, 2014 to increase the water allocation quota from the Colorado-Big Thompson (CBT) Project to 60% (0.6 AF/unit)—this is an increase from the initial quota of 50% announced last November. As usual, the board will revisit the quota as the year progresses.
Several stakeholder groups requested a significant increase in the amount of water allocated for this year; farmers have advocated for near to a hundred percent allocation citing the need to finish the growing season. However the quota decision was made with water savings for the future in mind.
The annual quota, which accounts for all quota decisions made for the year, has a historic average of 74% (0.74 AF/unit). Historically, the board set higher quotas in years with low runoff, when more supplemental water suppliers are needed and lower quotas in years with high runoff, allowing storage to build. In recent years, however, the board has shown greater concern for making sure water will also be available for future needs.
Streamflow forecasts were taken into consideration when setting the quota. Snowpack in watersheds contributing to the CBT inflow are above average, with the Upper Colorado River Basin at 134% of average and the South Platte tributaries at 147% of average. Storage conditions are also strong, with CBT storage at 100% of average and local storage at 129% of average.
The water from the CBT Project supplies 33 cities and towns, 120 agricultural irrigation companies, various industries, and other water users within the Northern Water’s service area of 1.6 million acres.
Written by Stratecon staff