Supporting our Local Colorado Agriculture Through Water Rentals - Fort Collins - Loveland Water District

The Fort Collins-Loveland Water District maintains a portfolio of raw water rights sufficient to meet our projected tap customer demands during a long-term drought. Water rights are renewable annual supplies of water that we own permanently. Each year, as more houses and businesses are built, more taps are sold. As a result, our community’s water demand increases meaning we must also increase our supply. We use the Water Resource Fee component of the tap purchase price to fund the acquisition of additional water rights to meet the increased demand from new customer growth. Our water resource planning is based on having sufficient water supplies during a drought so that we don’t need to enact mandatory water conservation measures to ensure that each customer has access to the water that they need, and choose to use, for their property.

However, not every year is a drought year. Thank goodness! In years where we have a water supply above the minimum drought-year yields and more than enough to meet our customer demand, the District may choose to rent surplus water back to the community as a means to support local Colorado agriculture. We typically set the rental cost for surplus water at just the amount of the annual assessment cost that we have to pay to maintain our long-term water rights. This makes the rented water a very economical option, on the order of $56 to $72 per acre-foot (2023 rates) for our agricultural neighbors.

It’s important to note that surplus water is only available when the available supply exceeds our projected needs for our tap customers. In drought years, we may not have any surplus at all after we meet our tap customer demands. Rental water is not an obligation of a water provider, it only exists when we have greater supply than projected demands. We fully expect to have years where no rental is available as we go through drought cycles.

For years that a surplus may exist, we will open an application process in early March before the water supply yields are determined by Northern Water (for C-BT water) and the ditch companies (for ditch shares like North Poudre Irrigation Company) in mid-April. This gives us time to validate that renters meet all of the requirements to rent water and use it on their land. Some water rentals require that the renter already be a shareholder of that company. Others require that the land be within the ditch company’s service area. We also require that rental water not be used for oil and gas development, but rather that it be used to support agriculture.

For 2024, our water rental application process opened at 8:00 a.m. on March 11, and within minutes we had applications that far exceeded our anticipated amount of surplus water for this year from the Colorado-Big Thompson (C-BT) supplies, and North Poudre Irrigation Ag and Municipal / Industrial water. We fill water demands on a first-come, first-served basis according to the time stamp on the email of the application. We do not accept applications prior to 8:00 a.m. on the application day, to give everyone equal opportunity.

For those applicants who are likely to get rental water from us, we are currently validating the application details. For applicants who are not likely to receive water from us this year, we are referring them to other rental application lists such as North Poudre Irrigation Company which opens its process on April 15th. Please be aware, that you have to be an existing shareholder to rent North Poudre water.

FCLWD is proud to support local agriculture when we are able to share surplus water. To learn more about the program and sign up for the 2025 waitlist, please contact us at 

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