BERTHOUD — The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, based in Berthoud and serving much of northeast Colorado, will cooperate with the Upper Colorado River Basin Commission as it works to reduce impacts on the climate-challenged Colorado River and its downstream dams and reservoirs, but not until overuse of water from the river in the Lower Colorado River Basin is addressed permanently.
In a letter to the commission Tuesday, Northern Water’s general manager sought to clarify where the district stands on the issue. Northern Water hosted its fall water symposium Tuesday in Loveland where the Colorado River along with impacts of climate change were front and center.
“Northern Water recognizes that it may be appropriate, at some time in the future, to participate in programs that address the effects of the Colorado River Basin drought on storage levels in Lake Powell. Northern Water will participate in water management programs of the state of Colorado that are developed in conjunction with the Upper Colorado River Commission. However, any such programs must be implemented only after overuse by water users downstream of Hoover Dam is addressed — and on a permanent basis. Water users in Colorado cannot be expected to take extraordinary measures that simply enable Lower Basin water users to continue the overuse that further threatens the Colorado River system. Northern Water also looks forward to working with you and other water users throughout Colorado to identify programs for expenditure of available state and federal funds that are focused on the most beneficial solutions for the Colorado River,” Brad Wind said in the letter. Northern Water made the letter available to BizWest on Tuesday.
Wind said the district understands that drought conditions require it and other users of Colorado River water to use the resource conservatively. He said the district already prioritizes conservation and water-use efficiency strategies. The district manages the Colorado-Big Thompson project and each year sets allocations based upon snowpack and regional reservoir levels.
“Northern Water has never allowed unrestricted use of C-BT Project water supplies,” he said. The allocations cause users to “inherently maximize the use of their respective supplies from the South Platte River basin, which in turn reduces the demand from the Colorado River. … Every year Northern Water also reserves a significant proportion of available Colorado River supplies to provide system resiliency and protection against future drought conditions.”