A collaborative effort to secure future water supplies for both the region’s communities and our vital ag industry
This innovative program within NISP is part of a strategic long-term plan to better plan for future growth and to consistently apply Colorado Water Plan principles to protect water for our communities, farms and the environment.
Creating a win-win for farms and ranches
As part of NISP and the WaterSecure efforts, Northern Water and the participants are engaging with willing shareholders in the New Cache la Poudre Irrigating Company and Larimer-Weld Irrigation Company, to utilize a portion of their senior water rights in exchange for water from Galeton Reservoir.
This series of exchanges would allow Glade Reservoir to store water for the communities in need of those supplies.
In return, the NISP participants will compensate any shareholders whose water rights are utilized in these exchanges. That compensation will come in the form of:
• 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 ownership of their water, and water continues flowing to the farms and ranches
• Compensation from the NISP participants will enhance the long-term viability of those ag operations
• 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
'Buy-and-supply' also being explored to help create a WaterSecure future for Northern Colorado
To avoid water leaving those farms permanently through buy-and-dry purchases from other entities, Northern Water and NISP participants are also exploring buying land and water from willing sellers, to ensure those supplies remain in the two ditch systems and available for exchange.
The senior water rights in the New Cache and Larimer-Weld systems are currently among the most sought after by water providers looking to obtain future supplies.
Farms in the New Cache and Larimer-Weld systems bought by Northern Water will remain in production through:
• Limited land use easements on the property
• Lease-back agreements
• Other arrangements that will require continued irrigation on those farms
Purchasing of assets by Northern Water and the NISP participants would be done in a “buy-and-supply” effort, with the goal of eventually returning them to private ownership.
Water quality questions addressed
Water quality and agronomy experts have thoroughly examined this, with the results showing water quality would have no impact on crops in nearly all anticipated operating conditions, and only very minor impacts on specific crops in rare instances.
There are many farmers irrigating with South Platte water – from Commerce City to the state line at Julesburg – who don’t experience negative impacts on their crops due to water quality issues.
NISP participants would certainly factor any such impacts on crops into compensation packages, and Northern Water will also continue monitoring water quality long into the future to address any potential issues.