Time to HOP to it! Horsetooth Reservoir’s Dam is getting a facelift
What you need to know about the Horsetooth Outlet Project
Fort Collins-Loveland Water District is fortunate to receive water from two reliable, high-quality sources: Horsetooth Reservoir and the Poudre River. Both sources of water provide resiliency to various impacts, such as wildfire, an algal bloom, or spring flows that are high in sediment. However, starting this October through the end of the year, our Horsetooth Reservoir supply will go offline while the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Northern Water) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation make repairs and upgrades to the Soldier Canyon Dam outlet. During this time, we are asking you to stop all outdoor water usage to help with the success of the Horsetooth Outlet Project (HOP).
Soldier Canyon Dam outlet supports more than just Fort Collins-Loveland Water District. The outlet supplies water to 220,000+ people who are customers of other local water providers including Fort Collins Utilities, East Larimer County Water District (ELCO) and North Weld County Water District (NWCWD). Northern Water is paying for HOP in its entirety because they are responsible for the upkeep of the structure.
HOP includes the needed infrastructure improvements and maintenance to protect water supplies both now and into the future. Maintenance will involve cleaning and replacing rubber gate seals and dive teams will install new stainless-steel tracks, which prevent debris in the water from getting through the outlet and into the water treatment plants.
Before beginning HOP, Northern Water will slowly lower the water levels in the reservoir by releasing water to users as normal but stopping flows into the reservoir. In turn, you may see extended beach areas by the end of summer. No need to worry, this is all part of the plan! Lower water levels will help workers safely accomplish their tasks.
The work is estimated to take 35-45 days and will likely wrap up in early December (contingent upon weather). Fortunately, we typically see a decrease in water use during winter months as temperatures are cooler and outdoor water use such as watering lawns has ended. As a result, there should be minimal impact to customers, however, water conservation will still be important during the project. As this is a community-wide project it’s important we all work together to reduce water use this fall to make this project successful.
How HOP will Impact You
So how will this impact you as a Fort Collins-Loveland Water District customer? As of October 1, we are asking all customers to stop outdoor water use. Considering the impact HOP has on the entire community, it is imperative that we all conserve as much water as possible. The goal is to reduce fall water usage to winter levels, which can be achieved if you stop watering your lawn a few weeks early.
While in the short term these restrictions can feel limiting, we know that the future benefits will better serve our customers. The good news is you can continue most of your normal water usage – we only ask you turn off your irrigation system a couple of weeks earlier this year. Fortunately, this is typically the tail end of the irrigation season.
Stopping outdoor water usage and letting your lawns go dormant will help ensure HOP’s success. Rest assured, your lawns will come back as green as ever in the spring. Knowing that you will need to turn off your outdoor water usage this fall, you can plan ahead by scheduling new landscaping, grass and plants in advance of October 1, so they don’t need to be watered during the project.
Public water use has also been scaled back for the duration of the project. However outdoor water use will still be allowed for athletic fields and areas that are necessary for public health and safety. Wherever possible, raw (untreated) water is being used on landscapes as it is not affected by HOP.
The City of Fort Collins has additional information on the project at fcgov.com/HOP. Some additional tips they recommend this summer heading into fall include:
- Prepare to stop outdoor water use starting Oct. 1.
- Be mindful of landscape planting this summer, so you won’t have to water new plantings during the HOP.
- Water trees and shrubs deeply prior to Oct. 1 (and again following HOP, if needed).
- Fix leaky faucets and running toilets.
- Limit or avoid car washing.
- Install high-efficiency water fixtures, including showerheads and toilets.
- Wash only full loads (dishes and laundry).
- Take shorter showers (less than 5 minutes is best).
If we all band together and pledge to eliminate outdoor water usage starting October 1, we can ensure that HOP will be a success and the Solder Canyon Dam will be able to continue providing the community with water for years to come. For additional information and updates visit Northern Water at https://www.northernwater.org/sf.