Thornton looks to boost Cache La Poudre flow

Cache la Poudre River May 2018. Photo credit: Greg Hobbs

From the Thornton Northglenn Sentinel (Scott Taylor):

A Thornton plan to improve the flows of water through Cache Poudre River isn’t meant to clear the way for a drinking pipeline Larimer County officials demurred on this summer — but it might help.

Thornton City Councilors pledged their support to an effort called Poudre Flows with Greeley and Fort Collins officials, the Cache La Poudre Water Users Association and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District to redirect an estimated 3,000 acre-feet of water Thornton owns to flow through the river annually.

“All along the river there are flow targets, flow rates set by the Colorado Department of Park and Wildlife, that required to keep the fish alive in the river,” Thornton Water Resources Manager Emily Hunt said. “There’s a higher threshold required to improve the environment to a reasonable degree and those are the flows we are trying to reach.”

[…]

But it’s not as easy as turning on a spigot, Hunt said, and Thornton and the coalition behind the Poudre Flows proposal need to negotiate difficult legal and water rights issues before it can happen.

“Say we dump that water someplace upstream and we hope to deliver it some 20 miles downstream,” Hunt said. “If there’s no specific water right associated with that water, any user can come along and divert it themselves. And the users downstream that own those rights lose it.”

The coalition hopes to designate that water as an “instream flow,” but that’s a designated water right that only the state can hold currently. The coalition will have to work to get that instream flow designation recognized.

If the Colorado Water Conservation Board signs off on the idea, the Poudre Flows coalition can file a request with the state Water Court. Hunt said she expects a decision from the conservation board early in 2019.

Hunt said the coalition and the City of Thornton have been working on the plan for three years.

“But made public now, because”

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