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Commentary and Analysis Regarding Colorado Law

What's New at Northern Water?

Northern WaterThe Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District influences many water use issues in Northeastern Colorado, including Boulder, Larimer and Weld Counties.  Northern Water is a public agency which is well-known for the construction and operation of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. The C-BT Project collects West Slope water and delivers it to portions of eight Northeastern Colorado counties, providing supplemental water to more than 640,000 acres of irrigated farm and ranch land and about 960,000 people.

The following are some news items involving Northern Water which affect many of our clients:

  • Eric Wilkinson retired after serving Northern Water as its General Manager from 1994-2018. Northern Water selected Brad Wind as its new General Manager.
  • Following its Spring Water Users meeting, Northern Water Strong increased its 2018 quota allocation for the Colorado-Big Thompson Project to 80 percent citing strong regional water storage coupled with below-average precipitation. The May 1st report from NRCS corroborates this decision, showing the median percent of normal snowpack and streamflow forecasts for Boulder Creek at 81% and for St. Vrain Creek at 60%. 
  • In March, Northern Water conducted a sealed bid for 75 terminated C-BT units. Three parties were successful – one at $30,101/unit (50 units); one at $29,500/unit (2 units); and the one at $29,253/unit (23 units). Based upon monthly reported transfers, the C-BT market price appears to be approximately $28,500/unit.
  • Also, in March, Northern Water auctioned off 15,000 acre-feet of C-BT water under its Regional Pool Program. Eight bidders were successful, with the high bid at $165.00/AF and the minimum successful bid at $126.00/AF. Bidders sought 38,985 AF of C-BT during this auction. To provide some perspective on the high demand for C-BT water, the 2017 Regional Pool auction for 12,300 acre-feet of C-BT yielded six successful bidders, with the high bid at $101.00/AF and the minimum successful bid at $81.00/AF.
  • At its May meeting, Northern Water opened two separate rulemakings, each which has been continued to the June 14th meeting. The first rulemaking action proposes modifications to the existing Regional Pool Program rules to ensure more efficient use of C-BT water, including:
  • Allowing an Account Entity who contributed water to the same Regional Pool to lease water from that Regional Pool (currently prohibited);
  • Eliminating the current restriction that a Regional Pool lessee must use all water from its Regional Pool account by the end of the water year in order to lease water from the Regional Pool in the subsequent year; and
  • Giving the Board discretion to define a volumetric limit any single bidder may lease from the Regional Pool.
  • The second rulemaking action proposes modifications to the existing C-BT tracking and accounting rules, to ensure maximum lawful use of C-BT water, including:
  • Imposing upon Account Entities (those with authority to order C‐BT from Northern Water), additional accounting requirements for the diversion, exchange, or storage of C‐BT water and for Utilities that supply C‐BT Project water for municipal/industrial uses;  
  • Requiring agricultural users, as well as municipal/industrial users, to maintain and submit accounting for the storage and subsequent use of untreated C‐BT water if that water is stored for longer than 72 hours in a reservoir with a decreed storage right;
  • Requiring entities to keep daily accounting of C‐BT Project water stored, estimated losses due to evaporation and seepage from storage, and beneficial use of releases from storage; and
  • Requiring Utilities that treat and supply C‐BT Project water for municipal/industrial uses to begin collecting daily information to be submitted monthly concerning the amount of treated C‐BT Project water provided to customers.
  • More information on each rulemaking can be found at http://www.northernwater.org/sf/allottee-information/allottee-documents.
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