C-BT Project Governance

Senate Document 80 lays out the original concept for the C-BT Project. This document was written and approved before Northern Water officially existed. The final configuration of the C-BT Project differs from what is described in Senate Document 80 but the document nevertheless provides a general outline of the project purposes. Key concepts include:

  • The project provides supplemental water to Northern Colorado – the project did not bring previously unirrigated lands into production. The project was intended to add to the already-existing supply of the region.
  • The Bureau of Reclamation operates the power generation aspects of the project.
  • Contracts for water use are to be issued on the basis of 310,000 acre-feet of project yield

The Repayment Contract describes the relationship between the federal government and Northern Water. In addition to the financial details, it also establishes the following concepts:

  • It describes which project facilities are operated by Northern Water and which are operated by the United States
  • It establishes water supply as the primary purpose of the project, but also describes minimum requirements for power generation
  • It authorizes Northern Water to distribute water from the project
  • It limits use of project water to lands within the boundaries of the District
  • Paragraph 19 provides that all return flows, re-use and re-captured water is retained by the District for use within the District boundaries.

Although Northern Water made its final payment Dec. 27, 2001, the terms of the repayment contract remain in effect.

Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District became the first Conservancy District established under Colorado law in 1937. With regard to ownership and allocation of water, the Water Conservancy District Act provides for the following:

Conservancy Districts are authorized to collect taxes and assessments according to four different “classes”:

  • Class A provides for a mill levy assessment on all lands within the District. Northern Water assesses a 1 mill ad valorem tax, as approved by voters June 28, 1938.
  • Class B allows the District to enter into contracts for water delivery to municipalities. The Class B assessment methodology is in conflict with changes made to the Colorado Constitution since the Conservancy Act was adopted. Northern Water now allocates and assesses municipal contracts through an alternate provision of the Conservancy District Act, C.R.S. 37-45-131, “Sale of water by contract”. These municipal contracts are now referred to as Section 131 Contracts. To reduce paperwork, a municipality’s C-BT acquisitions are first assigned to a Temporary Use Permit. Then on an annual basis, all of the Temporary Use Permits are converted to Section 131 contracts in a single action that is adopted as an ordinance or a resolution by the municipal government.
  • Class C allows the District to enter into contracts for water delivery to public water corporations. Examples include rural domestic water districts, industrial users, mutual ditch companies and irrigation districts.
  • Class D allows the District to enter into contracts for water delivery to privately owned land. Typically, these are irrigated farms.

Conservancy Districts have broad powers to manage their water delivery systems. Northern Water can determine how to allocate water and can adopt rules, regulations and policies as necessary.