Here’s a look at the need for new storage to capture runoff in years like 2009, from Rebecca Boyle writing in the Greeley Tribune. From the article:
While NISP is not nearly as complex as the [Colorado-Big Thompson], it, too, involves two rivers, multiple pipelines and new reservoirs located along the Great Hogback and on the Great Plains.
In the NISP version of this story, our drops of water fall as snow at Cameron Pass, later melting into a tributary of the main Poudre River. Along the way, they would avoid being caught in Long Draw, Halligan and Seaman reservoirs, and they would help buoy kayakers and trout making their way through the Poudre River Canyon. The drops of water would travel along the state’s only federally designated Wild and Scenic river, all the way to the canyon mouth. There, they would enter the North Poudre Supply Canal, an existing structure that would be augmented to fill a brand-new reservoir north of Ted’s Place, near the intersection of U.S. 287 and Colo. 14 northwest of Fort Collins. The new reservoir, called Glade, would require the relocation of U.S. 287 and would be slightly bigger than Horsetooth Reservoir to the south. Only when the Poudre carries extra water — like it is right now — could our drops make their way into Glade Reservoir.
Glade’s companion, Galeton Reservoir, built near the town that shares its name, would allow that to happen. The Larimer & Weld Canal and the New Cache Canal both take water off the Poudre near Fort Collins — the latter south of the town, close to Windsor, and the former north of the city, near Laporte. But Glade would take about one-fourth of that water before the canals’ headgates, so the canal owners would have to be reimbursed somehow. Galeton would fill with extra South Platte River water, to which the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District owns a very junior water right. It would fill in the winter, perhaps, or during very wet years. Two pipelines, called the South Platte Water Conservation Project, would be built to bring water from Galeton back to those two canals. The pipeline would meet the Larimer & Weld Canal near Ault, and the New Cache Canal would fill up in an area between Greeley and Eaton. “We will deliver the remaining one-fourth back to (the canal owners) from Galeton,” said Brian Werner, spokesman for Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. “Everybody else has to get satisfied before we take the water.”
He noted that during a wet spring like this past one, everybody is already satisfied and there’s plenty of extra water in the Poudre. “None of the ditch companies are taking water right now. It’s going past us; no farmers are taking it,” Werner said. Last week, 3,000 cubic feet of water per second crossed the Colorado-Nebraska state line in the South Platte River. The state is only required to send over 200 cubic feet per second. “This is water that we’re losing to Nebraska right now that the state has rights to,” Werner said. “There is nowhere else to put it. This is a good year to illustrate why we want to have the storage.”
More coverage from the Greeley Tribune (Rebecca Boyle):
Without the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, “Big Tom,” debates about the proposed Glade Reservoir project northwest of Fort Collins would be moot — there probably wouldn’t be anyone demanding that extra water, because there would never have been enough to stay here in the first place. The C-BT cost $164 million in the 1950s, when a new home cost less than $4,000. The water it carries would be worth more than $3 billion on today’s market, according to one estimate from the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. “It wouldn’t be built today,” said Neil Grigg, a longtime water resources professor at Colorado State University and the rivermaster of the Pecos River. The sheer magnitude would render it nearly impossible, both financially and politically, he said.