April 14, 2022

Northern Water Increases C-BT Quota to 70 Percent

The Northern Water Board of Directors voted unanimously on April 14, 2022, to increase its 2022 quota allocation for the Colorado-Big Thompson Project to 70 percent.

Board members expressed their desire to take a conservative approach that protects the ability of the C-BT Project to provide a water supply to its beneficiaries while considering the current water supply conditions in the Colorado River basin and the possibility that adverse conditions persist.

Luke Shawcross, manager of the Water Resources Department at Northern Water, outlined water modeling showing the projected outcomes of several quota declaration options, and he also discussed the available water supplies in regional reservoirs. Water Resources Specialist Emily Carbone also provided board members with current water availability data.

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

While current soil moisture conditions on Eastern Plains farmland prompted several board members to ask for consideration of a higher quota, others cited the uncertainty of future hydrology to support a more-conservative 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. 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 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. 

The quota increases available C-BT Project water supplies by 62,000 acre-feet from the initial 50 percent quota made available in November. 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 boundaries.