Demonstrating Collaboration and Innovation

One reason people move to Northern Colorado is the unique mix of cities and towns surrounded by working farms, which creates wide open spaces and a connection to our agricultural heritage.

As the population increases, there’s been a slow, mostly invisible flow of water from the farms just outside our suburban neighborhoods—water-short cities and towns have been purchasing water rights from farmers along the Front Range and drying up the agriculture on this land. 

This “buy and dry” type of transaction isn’t good for Northern Colorado. Corn fields and dairies disappearing to supply water to towns means there’s a shift away from an agricultural economy that will change the character of Northern Colorado.

Far Better than “Buy and Dry”

WaterSecure – a key element of NISP – provides an alternative to traditional “buy and dry” practices and allows farmers to benefit financially from their valuable water rights while keeping water flowing to their fields.

Northern Water can do this through exchanging water with farmers—this allows Northern Water to take water upstream to fill Glade Reservoir, and then provide the farmer with an equivalent amount of water supply from Galeton Reservoir.  Water moves to where it’s needed, and farmers control their valuable water rights and keep agricultural land in production. 

Northern Water is piloting WaterSecure now with several farms and is working with ditch company boards and shareholders to make this a permanent part of our plan to protect farmland and provide water supply to our growing population.

Creating a Win-Win for Farms and Ranches

A key component of NISP operations will be water exchanges, in which Northern Water and the project participants collaborate with the New Cache la Poudre and Larimer-Weld irrigation companies in Weld County.

NISP’s strategic use of the irrigation companies’ senior water rights will allow Glade Reservoir to fill for the communities in need of those supplies.

In return, the NISP participants will provide compensation for the two participating ditch companies, including:

  • Monetary payments
  • Additional water supplies from the nearby Galeton Reservoir
  • Ditch-system improvements

This series of exchanges is designed to serve as a win-win for the farms and ranches, in that:

  • Shareholders maintain control of their water, and water continues flowing to the farms and ranches
  • Ongoing monetary payments from the NISP participants will provide ag operations a reliable, diversified revenue stream
  • Farmers will have access to water later in the growing season with supplies in Galeton Reservoir
  • These exchanges would not reduce the value of their water shares
  • These exchanges have been adjudicated and approved by the water court and would not be subject to the ditch and reservoir companies' water rights to a change case

Learn more about the NISP exchanges and WaterSecure elements, contact Greg Dewey at 970-622-2300.