FC00222b Overview

Although the Fort Collins irrigation system originated as an agricultural endeavor, it has evolved to include service for the demands of municipal and industrial water users. The city’s urban population diverted the Cache la Poudre River’s water as soon as they founded Fort Collins in the 1870s. Urban water needs—daily use and consumption in homes and powering, cooling, and processing in factories—required increasing volumes of water as the population grew. Fort Collins municipal leaders soon found it necessary to purchase water from agricultural users. The city also expanded, enveloping ditches used to water farms in subdivisions. The purchase and transfer of water for urban use increased dramatically in the second half of the twentieth century. People who moved to the area also voiced environmental concerns about Cache la Poudre River water quality. Today, urban dwellers demand much larger volumes of water and a greater say in how water in the river basin is distributed.