BERTHOUD – The water quota from the Colorado-Big Thompson project for 2023 will be set at 70%, up from the 40% quota preliminarily set last October.
The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District board set the quota Thursday on an 8-4 vote.
An allocation at that level means that the owner of a share — or 1 acre-foot — of the C-BT project would be able to realize 0.7 acre feet of it. With 310,000 acre feet available in the project at 100%, a 70% allocation means that 217,000 acre feet will be available. There are 325,851 gallons in an acre foot.
Board members discussed the combination of this year’s above-average snowpack and streamflow projections contrasted against reservoir levels on the east slope — the non-C-BT reservoir levels are the lowest 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 water supply and availability data.
Public input was also considered in the board’s decision.
While 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, Northern Water said in a press statement.
The board has been setting the C-BT quota since 1957, and 70% 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%.
Water from the C-BT 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.