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Water Resources

How often do you think about where your water comes from? Most of us are happy to have water that comes from our faucets, but don’t often think about where that water comes from and how it gets to Northglenn.


  1. It starts with snow melt and rain in the Clear Creek watershed that flows into Standley Lake, where our water is stored.
  2. From there, water flows in a pipeline to the Water Treatment Facility on  W. 112th Avenue, where it is cleaned and purified.
  3. Then the clean and great tasting water is ready for you to use for drinking, cooking, showering and laundry.  All you need to do is turn on the faucet!
  4. When the water you use goes down the drain, it is pumped to the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant in Weld County, where it is cleaned and treated again and eventually sent to Big Dry Creek.

It’s a continual process of obtaining water, getting it ready for you to use, and treating it again before it’s returned to the earth.

Water Sources and Rights
Originally, water comes from rain and snow melt in the mountains, then the city collects the run-off water from these three main water sources:

  1. The Berthoud Pass Ditch that originates at 11,200 feet at Berthoud Pass in the Rocky Mountains.
  2. The Croke Canal in the Farmers Reservoir and Irrigation Company system.
  3. The Church Ditch which starts at Clear Creek near Golden and runs through Golden, Arvada and Westminster.

Then the water is stored in Standley Lake, along with water stored by other cities. To receive this water, Northglenn has purchased “shares” of water in each of these systems, and in the case of the Berthoud Pass Ditch and the Church Ditch, Northglenn owns the ditch system as well as water rights. Shares of water represent a quantity of water that can be delivered to Northglenn’s municipal system. Water shares in Colorado are very expensive and can cost the city between $30,000 and $300,000 per share to purchase. The more water shares that Northglenn owns means more water available to residents.

Colorado Water Law
Colorado has legislated how water is distributed to water users through the “Prior Appropriation System.” In this system, water users that have water shares that are the oldest or “senior” get their water first.  Newer or “junior” shares don’t get their water until all of the shares before them have the water they need. This process is often deemed “First in Time, First in Right.” To regulate this process, Colorado has a court system dedicated to water rights issues. All water rights owned by the city must be approved by the Colorado Water Court, before they can be used by a municipality. This process is very complex and approval can take many years.

Water Resources Activities
In Northglenn, Water Resources staff manages, accounts for and delivers the water sources, owned by the city, for use by the city. This includes purchasing new water rights, providing detailed accounting of how water is used, managing ditch structures, and overseeing the management of the city’s reservoirs. Water Resources staff also is responsible for implementing the city’s water conservation and drought management programs.

Water Leases
The City has recently undergone a water rights change application for a large portion of its water rights that were previously used for the annual leasing program. The result of this change case increased Northglenn’s municipal use and return flow obligations, thereby decreasing the amount of water Northglenn could store or use for leasing. Because of the greater demands for municipal use and return flows, coupled with a low Bull Reservoir level, the City of Northglenn will be ending its annual water leasing program indefinitely.

Planning for the Future
The city continues to purchase water shares to help ensure Northglenn will have an adequate water supply for future generations. Purchasing water shares is a priority, and each year the city budgets for additional shares.

Silas Adams
Water Resources Administrator
P: 303.450.4045
C: 303.304.8897