As the winter months drift away, we eagerly welcome the sights, smells, and sounds of spring. Birds chirping, flowers blooming, and ice finally melting are all much awaited perks. The same melted ice that hindered movement in winter transforms into running water that breathes life into the earth during the spring. Running water’s journey begins deep in the snowpack of the Rocky Mountains. For northern Coloradans, we experience the breadth of this activity at the Colorado River headwaters west of the continental divide.
After 83 years of supporting water conservation in our community, the team at Northern Water in Berthoud knows this spring journey all too well. Northern Water was created in the early 20th century just after the devastating Great Depression and Dust Bowl in an effort to provide supplemental irrigation water to farmers in northern Colorado. This was accomplished through the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, an initiative that now collects and delivers more than 200,000 acre-feet of water each year. There is a small-scale replica of this amazing undertaking at the Northern Water C-BT Interpretive Area, a space just west of their headquarter building at 220 Water Avenue in Berthoud.
Today, Northern Water continues their mission of providing supplemental water to the region. This area serves over one million residents and includes over 600,000 acres of irrigated agriculture. The scope of Northern Waters’ reach is as diverse as it is large and includes quickly growing cities, towns, rural-domestic water districts, and industries. Northern Water prioritizes efforts to equip urban water users with the knowledge necessary to maintain water efficiency.
Over half of the water used by Colorado homeowners is consumed by gardens and the landscaping industry. With conservation in mind, Northern Water is taking action by educating the public through their Conservation Gardens. These gardens offer examples of native grasses, irrigation technologies, and low-water landscapes. Low-water landscapes entail the usage of water-wise plants and mulches, as well as irrigation efficient design and maintenance. The best part is that beauty is never sacrificed in the name of conservation.
Northern Water helps homeowner associations all throughout northern Colorado. Through Northern Water’s collaborative Water Efficient Landscape Grant Program, over $100,000 was awarded in 2019 to local governments and HOAs. Their aim was to upgrade irrigation systems and incorporate native grasses into local landscapes. Northern Water offers landscape consultations, irrigation audits, and garden tours to the public. If you would like to apply for a grant or receive more information on water conservation, visit northernwater.org.