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

Water from the Colorado-Big Thompson Project is delivered to water users north of Horsetooth Reservoir in this photo from summer 2018. Photo credit: Northern Water

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

The Northern Water Board of Directors voted Thursday to increase its 2023 quota allocation for the Colorado-Big Thompson Project to 70 percent. Members voted 8-4 to increase the allocation from the 40 percent initial quota set in October.

Board members discussed the combination of this year’s above-average snowpack and streamflow projections contrasted against the lowest East Slope non-C-BT reservoir levels since 2013 and below-average soil moisture readings throughout much of the district.

Luke Shawcross, manager of the Water Resources Department at Northern Water, outlined water modeling showing the predicted storage levels in the project through the end of 2023 and into 2024, and he also discussed the available water supplies in regional reservoirs. Water Resources Specialist Emily Carbone and Water Scheduling Department Assistant Manager Sarah Smith also provided Board members with current water supply and availability data.

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

While current soil moisture conditions on Northeastern Colorado farmland prompted several Board members to ask for consideration of a higher quota, others cited the uncertainty of future hydrology to support their 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. In 2022, the final quota was 80 percent. 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 project 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, or collectively, 217,000 acre-feet.

The quota increases available C-BT Project water supplies by 93,000 acre-feet from the initial 40 percent quota made available in November 2022. 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 boundary. To learn more about Northern Water and the C-BT quota, visit www.northernwater.org.

Screenshot of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project boundaries via Northern Water’s interactive mapping tool , June 5, 2019.

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