Halligan reservoir: water supply for a growing community

English: Cache La Poudre River as it flows thr...
English: Cache La Poudre River as it flows through northern Fort Collins (taken Oct. 14, 2004) © 2004 Matthew Trump Category:Images of Fort Collins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fort Collins residents share this city with 148,612 other people.

Since 2000, the City of Fort Collins has grown in size from a population of 120,062 to 148,612; a 23.78 percent increase of about 28,550 people or 7,138 families, according to fcgov.com


Among other things, this growth in population size requires a growth of resource availability. According to the fcgov.com, the City of Fort Collins has spent $3.7 million to expand the Halligan reservoir to hold 33,462 acre-feet of Poudre River water that the city has had rights to since 1985.

This expansion would increase the reservoir’s capacity from its current 6,500 acre-feet to 21,000 acre-feet at completion. One acre-foot is enough to support two or three families for an entire year.

On Dec. 2, 2013, Fort Collin’s conditional water right from 1985 was canceled when the law firm responsible for managing the city’s utility services forgot to renew the contract. What does this mean for the city?

Basically, water rights determine how much water a city may receive based on factors like annual precipitation, population, and date the original contract was signed. Since realizing their mistake, the law firm has reapplied for more water rights. Rights received in the year 2014 will have a lower priority in water distribution amounts compared to rights received in 1985 due to its inferior standing “in line”.

Luckily, Fort Collins has several other water rights that can support the city despite its recent loss.

Fort Collins plans to continue the overall $30 million project to expand the Halligan reservoir in hopes that the city will continue to accumulate more water received from the right in past years.

An expanded Halligan reservoir will serve as a “bucket” to hold the surplus of Fort Collin’s water supply to be used in the case of a drought or an emergency. This ensures a cushioned and hopeful future for both the city’s current and future population.

Collegian Editor at Large Brittany Messinger can be reached at community@collegian.com. Brittany Messinger is apart of Wildlife Society and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.