With dry year looming, Colorado Big Thompson Project sets 80 percent quota
April 13, 2017
To learn more about Northern Water and the C-BT quota, go to http://www.northernwater.org.
C-BT quotas for the past five years
» 2013 — 60 percent
» 2014 — 60 percent
» 2015 — 70 percent
» 2016 — 70 percent
» 2017 — 80 percent
Northern Water's Board increased the Colorado-Big Thompson Project quota allocation to 80 percent at its Thursday board meeting in Berthoud.
With many farmers concerned about the lack of recent moisture and the hope that cities may be willing to provide some rental water to help the region's agricultural economy, the board chose to make available an additional 30 percent as a supplemental quota for 2017, according to a Northern Water news release.
The approval increased available C-BT water supplies by 93,000 acre-feet, from the initial 50 percent quota made available last November. At 80 percent, this year's quota is as high as it's been since 2012, when the quota was 100 percent.
The C-BT quota sets the percentage of water from the project each participant can use for the year. This year, water users can use 8/10 of each acre-foot of water they own. For example, if someone owns 100 acre-feet of water, they can use 80 of those acre-feet over the year. An acre foot can supply two urban families with their water needs for a year.
Board members considered snowpack totals, streamflow runoff projections and input from farmers and municipal and industrial water providers in setting the quota. C-BT supplements other sources of water 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.
Directors considered the general dearth of moisture in March as they discussed the quota options. March precipitation was 27 percent below normal and contributed to the Board's decision to raise the quota.
"It's dry. It really is," Board President Mike Applegate said in the release. "The C-BT Project was created to provide a supplemental supply, and we have the reserves to do that."
He said board members felt it was important to let water users know what would be available to them.
"Let's make the water available now so our allottees can make their plans," he said.
Directors base their decision on the region's need for supplemental water, while balancing project operations and maintaining water in storage for future dry years.