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Water Supply and Planning

Image of Boulder's Source Watershed

The City of Boulder is fortunate to have several high-quality sources of water, including the headwaters of Boulder Creek and diversions from the upper Colorado River on the west slope. Please see map to the right.

The city's ability to obtain water from both east and west slope sources provides a measure of water service reliability in response to moderate, localized droughts or other events.





Source Water Protection Program

Protecting drinking water at its source can help to prevent contamination and minimize treatment needs and costs. The city has long viewed source water protection as a proactive approach to preserving the water supply integrity, and worked with watershed stakeholders to develop a Source Water Protection Plan. Customers are encouraged to review the Source Water Protection Plan to learn more about the city’s watershed protection activities, and our routine source water monitoring and evaluation program, which allows for advance detection of a potential contamination event.

Water Conservation and Drought Planning

Hot and dry conditions make it increasingly important to conserve water! Visit the city’s Water Conservation webpage , which provides a variety of services to help customers manage water use in and around the City of Boulder.

The City of Boulder constantly monitors conditions in our watershed while managing water resources and reservoirs. The city’s Drought Plan ( Volume 1 and Volume 2 ) provides guidance for recognizing droughts that will affect water supply availability and for responding appropriately to these droughts. Learn about local, state, and national drought conditions as well as responses to frequently asked drought-related questions on the city’s Drought Watch webpage.

Water Leasing

Like many front range municipalities, one of the ways the City of Boulder manages the year-to-year variation in water supply is through its agricultural water leasing program. The city’s water supply is largely driven by annual precipitation, particularly snow melt, which varies from year to year. In average or above average supply years, the leasing program allows the city to make surplus water supply available to other users.

Utilities’ Water Resources work group manages the city’s annual water leasing program, which primarily serves agricultural lessees for single year leases of Colorado-Big Thompson (CBT) water. Each year, on Jan. 1, city staff begins accepting lease requests from prospective lessees. In June or July, depending on whether the city’s Boulder Creek reservoirs are full, annual water leases are offered to lessees based on the order the lease requests were received and with priority given to water users in Water District 6 (Boulder Creek basin). Once lease agreement documents are signed and payment is made to the city, arrangements are made to deliver water to the lessees. Lease rates are set annually and can be found in Boulder Revised Code Section 4-20-25(d).

One unique type of lease involves augmentation water, which requires fully consumable water rights and typically requires a long-term commitment to meet the lessee’s needs. Due to water rights limitations and administrative burden, the city is currently unable to offer augmentation leases as part of the leasing program.

To learn more about water leases or to request an annual CBT lease, please contact Kim Hutton at [email protected] or 303-441-3115.

Irrigation Ditches

Irrigation ditches are man-made channels that deliver water from natural sources to homes, farms, businesses, industries and other uses. Most irrigation ditches divert water from natural creeks and rivers and bring it to other areas. For further information about ditch companies, ditch maintenance, and information for homeowners and developers, please visit the city’s Irrigation Ditch Frequently Asked Questions .

For questions or issues regarding irrigation ditches, please contact Douglas Dunn, Water Resource Specialist, at [email protected] or 303-441-4295.

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