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Northern Water 1937

September 2012


Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District





4 Feat of brains, brawn

A Colorado man recounts his historic summer gig clearing post-blasting rubble out of the Alva B. Adams Tunnel.

7 Original, only better

Additions at Carter Lake show how Northern Water ensures C-BT Project facilities only get better with age.

9 Water reflects changes Changing trends within Northern Water’s district boundaries tell the story of a developing region.

12 Farmers secure futures

Descendents of some of the first farmers to sign up for C-BT units describe how their families’ lives changed forever.

17 President’s outlook

What will Northern Water look like in another 75 years? Board President Mike Applegate shares his vision.

Horsetooth Reservoir site, then and now

ABOUT Editor and writer: Dana Strongin Graphic designer: Jeff Dahlstrom Printer: Vision Graphics Northern Water. 220 Water Ave., Berthoud, CO 80513. 800-369-7246. Volume 32, Number 1, September 2012. All rights reserved. Jeff Dahlstrom

Cover: North Fork of the Colorado River, with Baker Gulch and the Grand River Ditch in the background

photo by Jeff Dahlstrom


September 2012

Born out of the dust Northern Water was born out of the dust 75 years ago. Its mission: provide a water supply to help prevent future 1930s-like dust bowls and Great Depressions – Mother Nature’s recipe for devastation and deflated dreams. Colorado lawmakers put this mission into motion on May 13, 1937 by passing the Water Conservancy Act. The first entity under this legislation, the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, was created on September 20, 1937. For the next 20 years, the district helped the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation build the ColoradoBig Thompson Project, which to this day brings runoff from mountain snows through a tunnel underneath the Continental Divide to semi-arid Northeastern Colorado. The district now known as Northern Water continues to operate and improve the C-BT, along with many new roles; just a few are featured in these pages. Because, for Northern Water, each decade’s new challenges are seen as opportunities to come up with solutions.


June 17, 1902: Roosevelt signs the Reclamation Act

August 1884

The Colorado State Engineer conducts the first survey of a possible diversion project to import West Slope water to the Northern Front Range.

June 17, 1902

President Theodore Roosevelt signs the Reclamation Act into law, creating the United States Reclamation Service.


The Reclamation Service (later renamed the Bureau of Reclamation) withdraws land from public entry near Grand Lake for a potential future water diversion project.

January 26, 1915

The U.S. Congress establishes Rocky Mountain National Park. The enabling legislation includes provisions for a future reclamation project.


Zoller Collection

Congress renames the Grand River the Colorado River, officially identifying the river’s headwaters and differentiating it from the tributary Green River.

1921: Colorado River named after its headwaters Burying raspberry canes near Berthoud, circa 1900

“The development, use, and conservation of water within this state is inextricably tied to the development and construction of works [dams, reservoirs, canals, pipelines and tunnels] … Such works are deemed to be a public use essential for the public benefit of the people of this state.” Water Conservancy Act, 1937


Feat of brains, brawn

Excavation at the Adams Tunnel’s East Portal, 1940


September 2012



A historic summer gig In March 2012, Golden resident Ken Calkins sent Northern Water his account of joining the Alva B. Adams Tunnel’s East Portal construction crew in June 1946. The 13.1-mile tunnel, which allows C-BT water to flow by gravity from west to east under the Continental Divide, was built by two crews simultaneously working inward from both ends: the West Portal at Grand Lake and the East Portal near Estes Park. Ken, a University of Colorado engineering student on summer break, carpooled to work from Loveland each day. Here are (lightly edited) excerpts of his account.

Ken Calkins: My Adams Tunnel experience I have remarked – only half jokingly – that I am probably one of the few persons alive today who worked inside the Adams Tunnel (which probably has more to do with my age than anything else). The experience was very interesting, and I would like to tell something of it. (continued on next page)


1930s: Dust storms devastate Colorado


The Great Depression hits. Drought and dust storms force many Northeastern Colorado farmers to halt all efforts to raise crops.

August 1933

Northern Colorado leaders put together the Grand Lake Committee – a predecessor to the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District – to pursue a Grand Lake water diversion project.

July 18, 1936

Congress officially renames the Grand Lake Project the Colorado-Big Thompson Project.

September 20, 1937

The Weld County District Court orders the creation of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

September 28, 1937

The NCWCD board meets for the first time in the Greeley Tribune building’s basement. This location is the NCWCD’s headquarters until May 1954.

1937: NCWCD moves in Greeley Tribune office East Portal construction crew

“From start to finish of the job, teamwork was the motto. Each man had his job to do and he did it … A famous football coach, after viewing a cycle of operations, remarked that he would like to have a football team as well trained … The whole job has been an outstanding record of achievement.” Estes Park Trail newspaper’s June 16, 1944 story on crews meeting near tunnel’s center


Underground gig Our work involved removing construction debris and cleaning out the tunnel to prepare for water flow. Each morning the crew would board the small mining cars and ride to the end of the track. We would remove the lighting, pick up concrete or wood, pull spikes from the rails, load all debris, and then go on to the next section. By noontime, we would ride out to the tunnel mouth, unload the cars, eat lunch in the daylight, and go back in. I learned of distinct differences between underground and aboveground work. One was you lost any sense of direction. The only reference you had was the end of the track which led to the closest end of the tunnel. If you were a distance away from that and turned around a few times, you would have no idea which way to go. This led me to one very interesting question. If the tunnel was drilled from both ends, and it was so difficult to tell even general directions underground, how could the two tunnels possibly have met? The answer was that the tunnel was surveyed by the old transit and plane table methods, going up and over Trail Ridge Road; the route covered some 50 miles, with countless elevation gains and losses. So drillers at each

First dynamite blast, June 23, 1940


September 2012


CONTINUED Adams Tunnel

portal would be given a horizontal and an elevation target. Then after each section of drilling holes, packing with explosives, blasting and removing rubble, drillers would be given bearings for the next section. When the tunnels met in the middle, the error between the centerlines was small enough to be covered by a coin. This was astounding. In my freshman surveying course I learned that even after the mathematics is mastered, surveying requires real skill to make precise readings. Whoever was responsible for that work should have received a generous bonus for that remarkable feat. Jumping ahead to 2012, I believe any evaluation would find the Adams Tunnel itself has functioned flawlessly and the overall project has been remarkably successful. Its scope and physical facilities have been expanded many times. It provides water for agricultural irrigation, municipalities and industries, hydroelectric power generation, recreation, and fish and wildlife support. The Adams Tunnel has been a great boon to Northeastern Colorado. Read Ken’s full write-up at under the Water Projects tab, in the C-BT section’s East Portal page.

Concrete work inside tunnel

Original, only better Horsetooth Reservoir and Carter Lake have been around so long, it’s easy to forget they play a pivotal role in sustaining the region’s farms and faucets. Even though the C-BT is historic, Northern Water doesn’t let project infrastructure bask only in past glory. Foresight built the C-BT, and forward thinking keeps it in tiptop shape. Carter Lake, for example, boasts several additions to maintain the reservoir’s reliability, meet changing demands and produce renewable energy.

A new pipeline: Meeting municipal demand After it was completed in 1952, Carter Lake water was primarily delivered to farmers. But subsequent residential growth spurred different needs, and in 1991 Northern Water began efforts to design and build an underground pipeline for year-round municipal water deliveries. After eight years of construction phases, crews completed the Southern Water Supply Project pipeline, which delivers Carter Lake water to serve municipal providers south to Broomfield and east to Fort Morgan. (continued on next page)


July 5, 1938: Officials sign repayment contract

June 28, 1938

Northeastern Colorado voters agree to assess themselves a 1 mill ad valorem property tax to build and operate the C-BT Project. Voters approve the measure by a 17:1 margin.

July 5, 1938

The NCWCD signs a contract with the United States to repay a portion of the C-BT Project construction costs.

June 23, 1940

Crews begin work on the 13-mile Continental Divide Tunnel from Grand Lake on the West Slope to Estes Park on the East Slope. The tunnel is the longest ever built from two separate headings.

June 10, 1944

Crews hole through the Continental Divide Tunnel. NBC Radio broadcasts the event live to the nation. A check of the center line and grade shows the two sides are off by only a penny’s width.

June 23, 1947

Jeff Dahlstrom

Officials dedicate the Continental Divide Tunnel, renamed the Alva B. Adams Tunnel, seven years to the day after construction’s start. The first C-BT water is delivered to the East Slope. June 23, 1947: First water delivered to East Slope View southward over Carter Lake

“An extension of the Southern Water Supply Project pipeline makes mountain water available to the plains … Since the new water first entered the town’s distribution system, the reaction from Fort Morgan citizens has been overwhelmingly positive. ‘We love it!’ ” Waternews, Spring 2000


Carter, improved A new outlet: Increasing facility’s reliability Carter Lake was designed to release water during the irrigation season. The addition of year-round municipal deliveries demanded a lot from the reservoir’s sole outlet. To increase reliability, Northern Water pursued another outlet and in 2006 received approval from Reclamation. The $12-million outlet, completed in 2008, is a 110-foottall intake tower at the reservoir’s south end that connects to the St. Vrain Supply Canal.

A new plant: Producing power from pressure The new Carter Lake outlet offered an ideal spot for Northern Water’s first power endeavor, a plant to harness pressure that was already being created by water releases.


CONTINUED Hydro turbines

Construction of the Robert V. Trout Hydropower Plant, named after longtime Northern Water legal counsel Bob Trout, began in 2011. It features two 1,300-kilowatt turbines and can power about 1,000 homes. The $6-million project started producing power in May 2012 and is expected to pay for itself in about 15 years.

A parallel pipeline: Building upon the past A second pipeline for the Southern Water Supply Project received a required Boulder County permit in summer 2012. The new pipeline will run parallel to the original line and will benefit residents in the city of Boulder and three domestic water districts: Longs Peak, Left Hand and Little Thompson.

Jeff Dahlstrom

Hydro plant connects to second Carter outlet


September 2012

Water reflects changes In 1937, the U.S. witnessed the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, a rise in polio cases, gas priced at about 20 cents a gallon, and major flooding off the Ohio River – while dust storms swept from Oklahoma westward. A lot can happen in three-quarters of a century: the rise of commercial airliners, the increase in gas prices to dollar amounts instead of cents, invention of the polio vaccine, and construction of new dams for water storage and flood control. In 1937, the creation of what is now called Northern Water kicked off a series of events that would forever change the livability and landscape of Northeastern Colorado, beginning with the start of C-BT Project construction just a year later. The project, a feat of engineering and construction, would become a model demonstrating how collaboration can help meet a region’s water resources needs. Since then, the changes within Northern Water’s district boundaries reflect the growth of a region once dubbed the “Great American Desert” to the home of some of the nation’s most productive agricultural land – and a significant urban population boom. (continued on next page)


April 1971: NCWCD moves to Loveland office

May 1954

After 17 years in the basement of the Greeley Tribune building, the NCWCD moves to its new headquarters west of Loveland. The NCWCD has four full-time employees.


The C-BT Project is declared complete and fully operational.

November 9, 1960

The NCWCD board expands from 11 to 12 directors. The additional appointee represents Boulder County, which had a 53 percent population increase between 1950 and 1960.

April 1971

The NCWCD moves into its new Loveland headquarters. This location serves as the organization’s principal place of business through August 2003.

July 31, 1976

A flash flood in the Big Thompson Canyon kills 145 people and causes more than $35 million in property damage, including destruction of the 240-foot-long Big Thompson Siphon. (Timeline continued on page 13) District-area population in 1957 - 150,000

District-area population in 2012 - 850,000 July 31, 1976: Siphon destroyed in flood

“With the growth of population and industry that has taken place in this valley in the past ten years, there is no question that each and every one of us must concentrate on making the maximum best use of the water we have … The more we know and understand about each other’s operations and problems, the better job we should be able to do.” Northern Water Board President J. Ben Nix, at a March 26, 1963 water users meeting


Water flows to farms In 1957, nearly 20 years after C-BT construction got its start, Reclamation declared the project “substantially complete” and full operations to deliver water to contract holders, known as allottees, began.


CONTINUED Beet harvest, 1968

The C-BT was built primarily to provide supplemental irrigation water to Northeastern Colorado’s agricultural sector. When full deliveries started in 1957, individual farmers and irrigation ditch companies held 85 percent of the allotment contracts. But over the years, more cities, towns, domestic water providers and industries have purchased C-BT and become contract holders. By 2012, the majority ownership of C-BT allotment contracts had shifted dramatically away from agricultural to municipal, domestic and industrial users. These ownership numbers tell a tale well beyond what goes into Northern Water’s filing cabinets. They show that municipalities are working more and more to meet demands for water – a resource we cannot live without.

Corn irrigation near Berthoud

Cache la Poudre River

Horsetooth Reservoir

Pleasant Valley Pipeline

Fort Collins

Pinewood Lake Estes Reservoir

Estes Park

Southern Water Supply Pipeline

Adams Tunnel


Lake Granby

Willow Creek Reservoir


Flatiron Reservoir Berthoud Northern Water Carter Lake

Mary’s Lake Grand Lake Shadow Mountain Reservoir

Granby Kremmling

Windy Gap Reservoir

Boulder Reservoir Continental Divide

Boulder Broomfield

Green Mountain Reservoir South Platte River


September 2012



Rocky Mountain National Park Continental Divide

Northern Water Boundaries

Greeley South Platte River

Fort Morgan Pipeline

Demand shifts hands


Industrial use of C-BT water has increased

In 2012 the population within Northern Water boundaries had increased more than five times from what it was when C-BT operations began 55 years before. Yet despite the tremendous population growth and equally dramatic shift in C-BT ownership, more than 60 percent of the project’s water continues to be used for agriculture. A seasonal rental market enables allottees to rent out their C-BT water to others. Thanks to this active rental market, along with flexible project operations, adaptable Northern Water policies, and municipal and domestic allottees willing to rent out C-BT water, irrigated agriculture continues to benefit tremendously from the C-BT. Over time other water needs have become integral to water resources management. Northern Water has responded with active leadership and participation in programs ranging from endangered species protection to water quality monitoring and conservation studies. Julesburg

District population 1937 - 75,000 1957 - 150,000 2012 - 850,000

District size 1937 - 1.48 million acres 1937 to 1957 - 36,000 acres added 1957 to 2012 - 113,000 acres added

C-BT deliveries

1957 • Agricultural - 97 percent • Municipal & industrial - 3 percent 2011 (last complete water year) • Agricultural - 64 percent • Municipal & industrial - 36 percent

C-BT ownership

1957 • Agricultural - 85 percent • Municipal & industrial - 15 percent 2012 • Agricultural - 34 percent • Municipal & industrial - 66 percent


Fort Morgan

Jeff Dahlstrom

ngered Piping Plover

19th century: Region is “Great American Desert” Beet harvest, 2011

“In a water-short region like Northeastern Colorado – and on a bigger scale, most of the American West – true water resources management takes a lot more than transporting water to meet demand. It also means promoting projects that make use of every drop in the most responsible manner possible.” Northern Water Annual Report, 2011


Farmers secure futures



Jeff Dahlstrom

Timberlane Farm Museum

Louise Osborn Gardels manages donations to and is director of the Timberlane Farm Museum, a living farm at 2306 East 1st Street in Loveland that demonstrates life from 1860 to 1940. Visitors can walk through Louise’s


September 2012

restored childhood home, built by her father in 1916, and the house her grandfather built in 1882. Sheds contain artifacts, including covered wagon implements and her father’s patented headgate.

Louise Gardels Louise Gardels likes to remember. And if there’s one thing this scientific scholar and history buff born in 1923 and raised on a Northern Colorado farm will remember, it’s the C-BT Project. Her family’s Loveland-area roots date back to 1861, when her great-grandfather, W.B. Osborn, homesteaded and farmed between the Big Thompson River near present-day East 14th Street. Louise’s father, Milo Kenneth, the third generation to farm the land, was born in 1888. Before C-BT, rain was critical but varied drastically each year, so when the opportunity came, Kenneth was ready for C-BT units to make irrigation water supply more reliable. As a side benefit, C-BT’s design fascinated the family, including Kenneth, who studied mechanical engineering and patented an automatic headgate diversion structure. Louise, who did engineering work at one time, recalls taking trips to check on the Big Thompson Siphon’s construction. “We couldn’t believe what they were doing!” (continued on next page)


June 1986: NCWCD assumes O&M at Granby


The NCWCD establishes an Irrigation Management Service to promote wise agricultural water use as part of a commitment to water conservation.

June 1986

The NCWCD assumes operation and maintenance responsibilities for the C-BT Project’s West Slope collection system facilities.

February 1987

The NCWCD assumes operation and maintenance responsibilities for Horsetooth Reservoir and Carter Lake. By 1987 the NCWCD staff includes 56 full-time employees.

September 20, 1987

The NCWCD marks its 50th anniversary with a celebration at its headquarters in Loveland.

May 1992

The NCWCD sponsors its first children’s water festival in Fort Collins.

October 1992 Kenneth Osborn and headgate box structure

Osborn’s headgate, patented February 5, 1952

“The Last Water Hole in the West,” Daniel Tyler’s history of the NCWCD and the C-BT Project, is published. May 1992: Children’s water festivals begin

“Dad was always very concerned about getting water. We didn’t have enough. We waited and waited for rain, and it could get very, very dry. But C-BT, that gave us water. It helped a lot and made it easier to water – grain, hay, sugar beets, all of it.” Louise Gardels (daughter of original C-BT allottee) interview, 2012


David Gustafson David Gustafson’s relatives have been farming for quite some time – long enough to garner recognition for both of their Eaton-area farms. The 1889 E.R. Gustafson Farm and the 1892 Barbara Gustafson Farm both received Colorado’s Centennial Farm Award for being century-old working family farms. David’s family tree includes his great-grandfather T.H. Wilson, pictured below with fellow homesteaders. David’s ancestors ended up making what he deems a wise decision: to acquire C-BT water in 1939, just a year


David Gustafson


after construction began but nearly two decades before full water deliveries started. Before C-BT water came their way, farming in the Eaton area was unreliable. “In the 1930s they say farming was awful,” says David, who himself started farming his family’s land in the mid-1960s. But having C-BT water made all the difference. For example, David says, a large annual quota – the amount of water available to allottees – can add an invaluable two and a half months of irrigation time to the season.

E.L. Clark, L. Ogilvy and T.H. Wilson, 1881

“Colorado as we know it today was built by many people who converged here during the nineteenth century. They built and lived in sod houses … suffered through the droughts of the 1890s … the rise and fall of the sugar beet industry, the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, [and] the enduring quest for water.” Write-up in David Gustafson’s files on local family names, including his own


September 2012

Tales from the inside


November 1993: SWSP pipeline work begins

Employee turnover at Northern Water is historically low, even today. Out of about 120 employees, nearly 45 have been here more than 10 years, and another 25 have reached or passed their 25th anniversaries. A few employees who joined the ranks early share some of the biggest changes they’ve seen.

November 1993

Minerva Lee, 50 years

June 1994

Human resources and administrative services department manager Minerva started as a clerk/typist, but her tasks varied because having a small staff meant sharing duties; O&M crews even helped paste up annual report pages. Back then, employees got a list of everyone’s pay, yet today even health matters must be private. Past culture used to discourage staff interaction with the manager and directors, but today their doors are open. Despite the changes, Minerva says, employees have never stopped looking out for each other.

Roger Sinden, 31 years Distribution systems department manager Since Roger, who retired in August 2012, started, the number of East Slope O&M employees has more than doubled thanks to facility acquisitions and new construction. New projects required additional electrical and mechanical know-how, which Roger is proud came out of employees’ offers to take more training. New work brought new equipment, and today many machines big and small get their care in-house. (continued on next page)

Construction begins on the Southern Water Supply Project pipeline from Carter Lake to Broomfield.

Officials rename the Granby Pump Plant in honor of the Farrs, a prominent Weld County farm and ranching family.

September 1999

Crews finish work on the Southern Water Supply Project pipeline’s final 42 miles from Platteville to Fort Morgan.

January 2000

The NCWCD and Reclamation unveil plans to modernize Horsetooth Reservoir’s four 50-year-old dams to make the structures more earthquake resistant and to reduce seepage.

June 17, 2002

Reclamation marks its 100th anniversary with a celebration at Hoover Dam on the Colorado River near Las Vegas, Nevada.

January 2000: Horsetooth modernization begins Roger Sinden

“An organization is only as good as its people. The district staff has grown to over 30 and yet employee turnover remains practically nonexistent.” Northern Water Annual Report, 1983


Employees look back Dennis Baker, 30 years Civil engineering department manager Dennis’ first task was preparing for the future, by modifying Colorado River diversion structures before the Windy Gap Project started pumping. But Dennis focuses more and more on the past as C-BT facilities get older. He is often at a computer, but he gets to spend time in the field as crews bring his designs to fruition. Dennis enjoys working in the field, because to him O&M will always be Northern Water’s heart and soul.

Dennis Miller, 29 years Operations coordinator Before electronic recording of water deliveries, O&M employees methodically entered numbers on paper grids. Dennis was a hot commodity when he started since he knew how to use a Data General, a precursor to the computer we know today. Dennis used to account

Dennis Baker


Noble Underbrink

for C-BT quota water only, but now there are several types, including Windy Gap and carryover water. Accounts are accessible online, but Dennis says most folks still like to dial him up on the dispatch landline number. And they still get the same familiar answer: “Water district, Dennis Miller.”

Noble Underbrink, 26 years Collection systems department manager Noble came on after the Windy Gap Project increased West Slope jobs. Originally a machinist mechanic, he has enjoyed seeing new equipment and materials offer additional ways to test, maintain and upgrade C-BT and Windy Gap facilities – even though a lot of the equipment is original. Noble says Northern Water has done a great job balancing technology’s latest advances with the continued need for people on hand to make decisions based on facilities’ individual characteristics.

Dennis Miller

“I love to talk on the phone. All it takes to be a good dispatcher is the ability to get along with people. You have to like people and enjoy talking to them.” Dennis Miller, Northern Water employee newsletter, September 1986


September 2012


President’s outlook My view: Northern Water, 150 years old

By Mike Applegate, President, Northern Water Board of Directors As we celebrate 75 years of Northern Water’s accomplishments, I would like to share my vision of what I believe we can see by 2087, when another 75 years brings Northern Water to its 150th anniversary. Here is what I envision:


September 2003: NCWCD moves to Berthoud

September 2003

After more than 49 years in west Loveland, the NCWCD moves to its new 35-acre headquarters facility in Berthoud. The NCWCD has 104 fulltime employees.

The C-BT Project continues to deliver reliable supplemental supplies to the Front Range. A coequal partnership between city and farm gives both interests the reliable supplies they need. Northern Water continues to make project water use flexible and fair.

October 2003

Advances in seed genetics and irrigation technology produce crop varieties that use half the water and produce twice the volume. Food and fiber production is a national security interest and protection of prime farmland is as important as preservation of environmental values.

March 2004

The Northern Integrated Supply and Windy Gap Firming projects are backbone supplies for municipalities. Many of them cooperate to develop reliable, efficient regional water treatment systems. Northern Water promotes processes that maximize use. (continued on next page)

The project to modernize Horsetooth Reservoir’s dams is complete.

Crews finish constructing the Pleasant Valley Project line between Horsetooth Reservoir and the Poudre River. It is designed to flow by gravity in each direction without the need for pumps.

July 31, 2006

The NCWCD dedicates a 2.5-acre site for turf, soil, irrigation and planting experiments at its headquarters. In 2007 it is renamed The Conservation Gardens at Northern Water.

April 2007

Jeff Dahlstrom

The NCWCD board endorses staff ’s recommendation to use “Northern Water” as an abbreviated reference for “Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District” to facilitate name recognition. July 31, 2006: Site dedicated to irrigation studies Pivot irrigation south of Berthoud, with Longs Peak in the background

“Our forefathers had a vision for the region in 1937 they knew they may never see, yet they stepped up to leave a legacy we enjoy today.” Mike Applegate, President, Northern Water Board of Directors, 2012

For a list of directors, managers and department heads visit under the About Us tab’s Board of Directors and Department Directory pages.


Outlook: 2087 The Poudre River basin is recognized worldwide as one of the most well managed for the benefit of both man and environment. The river has been thriving since NISP began operating and is a case study in how the coordinated use of storage and cooperation with agriculture can improve the environment, as well as how altering the environment can improve on what naturally existed. Adding hydropower at Carter Lake was the first of many projects to develop significant revenue streams for operating and maintaining the C-BT, although the project still upholds the prime mission of delivering water. Colorado’s raw water supply plumbing system is expanded and interconnected, allowing for more flexibility to satisfy demands. Colorado is making maximum beneficial use of all basins’ water, and Northern Water helps lead this effort.

Jeff Dahlstrom

Rafters during a summer day on the Poudre River


September 2012


Carter Lake sampling


Storage remains a keystone of water reliability for our state. Older dams and reservoirs receive regular maintenance to maximize storage. Dredging is cost-effective, and sediment control is common. Advances in technology have made Best Management Practices in water quality and watershed protection more economical. Experts say the forest management practices Northern Water developed for its watersheds are critical. Improvements implemented as a result of Windy Gap Firming Project construction have and will continue to enhance the Colorado River. As a steward and regional cooperator, Northern Water continues to honor all of its obligations, just as it did during its first 75 years.

What’s to come Looking at history is one way to help predict the future. In Northern Water’s 40th anniversary annual report, the story of the water year sounds a lot like it did in 2012: “The year 1977 was a year in which a record drought occurred throughout the state and all of the western part of the United States. Fortunately for water users within the district, storage reserves in the C-BT Project system reservoirs carried over from 1976 were adequate to meet the need.” This passage exemplifies Northern Water’s history as a steward of the C-BT, built to store water in times aplenty for times of no plenty at all. But it also predicts the future, by describing the drastic differences in water years. With that, Northern Water’s mainstay will continue to be C-BT, a project we can thank for providing some much-needed ease to our semi-arid state of mind.


October 2010: Grand Lake channel is rehabbed

January 2008

Northern Water’s board adopts a new logo to replace the organization’s existing 20-year-old logo design.

October 2010

Northern Water rehabilitates the connecting channel structure between Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Reservoir. Built in the mid-1940s, the structure helps control surface levels in both water bodies.

May 2012

Northern Water dedicates the Robert V. Trout Hydropower Plant at Carter Lake. The $6-million project is the seventh power plant on C-BT facilities and is the first power plant owned and operated by Northern Water.

September 20, 2012

Northern Water marks its 75th anniversary with a celebration at its headquarters in Berthoud.

Michael Lewis

For more historic dates, view an extended timeline at in the History section under the About Us tab.

May 2012: Trout hydropower plant dedicated Lake Granby, a mainstay storage reservoir for drought

“District activities for the past 40 years have established a record which speaks for itself through the economic benefits that have been derived from supplementing and stabilizing water supplies available to the district area.” Northern Water Annual Report, 1977



220 Water Ave. Berthoud, CO 80513 Address service requested



Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District


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