@Northern_Water increases #Colorado-Big Thompson Project quota to 70 percent #SouthPlatteRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

A “rooster tail” is formed by the water descending the Granby Dam spillway on July 19, 2019. Photo credit: Northern Water

Here’s the release from Northern Water (Jeff Stahla):

The Northern Water Board of Directors voted unanimously Thursday to increase its 2022 quota allocation for the Colorado-Big Thompson Project to 70 percent.

Board members expressed their desire to take a conservative approach that protects the ability of the C-BT Project to provide a water supply to its beneficiaries while considering the current water supply conditions in the Colorado River basin and the possibility that adverse conditions persist.

Luke Shawcross, manager of the Water Resources Department at Northern Water, outlined water modeling showing the projected outcomes of several quota declaration options, and he also discussed the available water supplies in regional reservoirs. Water resources specialist Emily Carbone also provided board members with current water availability data.

Public input was also considered in the board’s decision.

While current soil moisture conditions on Eastern Plains farmland prompted several board members to ask for consideration of a higher quota, others cited the uncertainty of future hydrology to support a more-conservative approach this year.

The Board has been setting C-BT quota since 1957, and 70 percent is the most common quota declared. It was also the quota set for the 2021 water delivery season. Quotas are expressed as a percentage of 310,000 acre-feet, the amount of water the C-BT Project was initially envisioned to deliver to allottees each year. A 70 percent quota means that the Board is making 0.70 acre-feet of water available for each C-BT Project unit.

The quota increases available C-BT Project water supplies by 62,000 acre-feet from the initial 50 percent quota made available in November. Water from the C-BT Project supplements other sources for 33 cities and towns, 120 agricultural irrigation companies, various industries and other water users within Northern Water’s 1.6 million-acre service area. According to recent census figures, more than 1 million residents now live inside Northern Water’s boundaries. To learn more about Northern Water and the C-BT quota, visit http://www.northernwater.org.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project Map via Northern Water

Click the link to read “Northern Water sets allocation at 70% for the season” on the Loveland Reporter-Herald website (Ken Amundson). Here’s an excerpt:

The allocation, which is the amount of water that the district will make available to owners of shares of the Colorado-Big Thompson project, means that of the 310,000 acre feet available at 100%, 217,000 acre feet will be made available to shareholders. An acre foot of water — essentially the amount of water that would cover an acre of land one-foot deep — is about 325,851 gallons of water. The board chose what has become the typical allocation. It has the option of increasing it later if conditions permit.

Board members expressed their desire to take a conservative approach that protects the ability of the C-BT Project to provide a water supply while considering the current water supply conditions in the Colorado River basin and the possibility that adverse conditions could persist. While current soil moisture conditions on eastern plains farmland prompted several board members to ask for consideration of a higher quota, others cited the uncertainty of weather conditions to come…

As reported by Northern Water staff Wednesday and again this morning at the board meeting, the district is in good shape on water already stored in the system’s reservoirs. A total of about 563,000 acre feet is stored in Lake Granby, Horsetooth Reservoir and Carter Lake before the runoff season gets fully underway. That’s about 32,000 acre feet above average. The storage levels have been above average for the past eight years, the staff reported.

As reported Wednesday, streamflow levels are predicted to be near average, and snowpack levels are about 90% of average. Uncertain is the amount of precipitation on the Western Slope or Eastern Slope yet this spring and early summer, and whether soil conditions will remain dry.

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