History

Firming Water Supplies from the Original Windy Gap Project

The Windy Gap Project was first proposed in 1967 by the cities of Boulder, Estes Park, Fort Collins, Greeley, Longmont and Loveland. Built between 1981 and 1985 and located on the West Slope near Granby, Windy Gap consists of a diversion dam on the Colorado River, a pump plant and a 6-mile pipeline to Lake Granby, the largest storage reservoir in the Colorado-Big Thompson Project system.

The Windy Gap Firming Project, of which Chimney Hollow Reservoir is a main component, will improve the reliability of, or firm, water supplies from the original Windy Gap Project, which started delivering water in 1985. It was understood the original Windy Gap Project would require additional storage to achieve firm water supplies. The Windy Gap Firming Project has been reviewed under the federal National Environmental Policy Act. This review started in 2003. NEPA and Colorado's requirement for a plan focused on fish and wildlife are among several processes in place to identify mitigation measures that will address the project's impacts. 

  • 2003

    2003

    Project participants enter the federal permitting process and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation holds three formal "scoping" meetings.
  • 2005

    2005

    U.S. Bureau of Reclamation published two reports, one describing the purpose and need, and one identifying a range of alternatives that could meet the needs.
  • 2008

    2008

    U.S. Bureau of Reclamation publishes the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
  • 2009

    2009

    Municipal Subdistrict offers West Slope benefits to facilitate project implementation.
  • 2011

    2011

    State officials approve the fish and wildlife mitigation plan and voluntary enhancement plan
  • 2011

    U.S. Bureau of Reclamation publishes the Final Environmental Impact Statement.
  • 2012

    2012

    Grand County and the Municipal Subdistrict board approve agreements to create improvements to the Colorado River. Grand County issues 1041 permit.
  • 2014

    2014

    U.S. Bureau of Reclamation issues its Record of Decision and signs a carriage contract to transport water to Chimney Hollow Reservoir.
  • 2016

    2016

    Colorado issues a 401 Water Quality Certification.
  • 2017

    2017

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues its final Record of Decision.
  • 2019

    December 2019

    The Board of Directors of the Northern Water Municipal Subdistrict chooses a contractor to build Chimney Hollow Dam. Barnard Construction Inc. of Bozeman, Mont., will enter into a $485.4 million contract that calls for the construction of a 355-foot-tall asphalt-core dam in the valley west of Carter Lake in southern Larimer County.
  • 2020

    Dec. 10, 2020

    Federal Court rules in favor of the Windy Gap Firming Project, clearing the way for construction of Chimney Hollow Reservoir near Berthoud.
  • 2021

    April 21, 2021

    The Subdistrict reaches an agreement several environmental groups settling the lawsuit and appeal. The $15 million settlement will benefit aquatic habitat on the West Slope. The settlement will allow construction of Chimney Hollow Reservoir beginning in August 2021.
  • Aug. 6, 2021

    The Northern Water Municipal Subdistrict breaks ground on Chimney Hollow Reservoir, culminating a 20-year permitting process. Chimney Hollow Reservoir is a key component for these Windy Gap Firming participants: Broomfield, Platte River Power Authority, Loveland, Greeley, Longmont, Erie, Little Thompson Water District, Superior, Louisville, Fort Lupton, Lafayette and Central Weld County Water District. Each of the reservoir project participants that provide residential water service has committed to reduce per capita water supply through water conservation.
  • Aug. 16, 2021

    Northern Water’s Municipal Subdistrict issued a Notice to Proceed to Barnard Construction Co. Inc. to begin construction of Chimney Hollow Reservoir. Environmental and mitigation efforts have also begun in the Upper Colorado River basin.
  • Oct. 1, 2021

    Crews conduct the first blast at the Chimney Hollow Reservoir construction site. Blasts occur regularly, often multiple times a week, for the duration of the project.
  • 2022

    January 2022

    Foundation grouting begins on the main dam at Chimney Hollow Reservoir.
  • Feb. 9, 2022

    In what is described as a “milestone” day, crews install a bridge to connect two sections of a new Larimer County access road at the Chimney Hollow Reservoir construction site.
  • Feb. 10, 2022

    Initial placement of the Chimney Hollow main dam plinth begins.
  • April 4, 2022

    Tunneling of the Chimney Hollow Reservoir inlet/outlet infrastructure gets underway.
  • July 7, 2022

    Crews place the first of 61 valves on-site as part of the conduit that will bring water into the reservoir. This valve is located in the valve vault on Bald Mountain approximately 700 feet above the top of the main dam and will provide isolation between the inflows to Chimney Hollow and the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. The 72-inch diameter valve weighs 23,000 pounds.
  • Aug. 1, 2022

    First piece of pipeline for the conduit installed.
  • Aug. 23, 2022

    Dignitaries from across the region gather to celebrate the start of construction at the Colorado River Connectivity Channel located in Grand County. Led by U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, leaders of public agencies and private non-governmental organizations extol the value of the project that will reconnect two segments of the Colorado River above and below Windy Gap Reservoir.
  • Sept. 15, 2022

    A shutdown of the Colorado-Big Thompson (C-BT) Project goes into effect as crews cut into the existing C-BT infrastructure at the Bald Mountain Tunnel. A 126-inch steel pipe with a 72-inch steel offtake (known as a wye) is tied-in so that future water deliveries can be made to Chimney Hollow Reservoir.
  • Oct. 15, 2022

    Crews place the first section of the asphalt core. The asphalt is placed in 10-inch lifts until it reaches the top of the dam (approximately 350 feet). Rockfill occurs concurrently to stabilize the asphalt core, covering the plinth.
  • November 2022

    Crews completed the main dam rock excavation after 15 months of work on this component.
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