The City of Fort Collins identified the Canal Importation Ponds and Outfall (CIPO) Drainage Improvement Project as a need in the 2002-2003 Stormwater Master Plan Initiative. The CIPO project would repair and modify the Canal Importation Basin, which had sustained significant damage in the Spring Creek flood of 1997. In fact, the highly urbanized area put people and property at risk of flooding somewhat frequently.

The Canal Importation Basin extends five miles in the central west part of Fort Collins and is one of twelve water management areas identified for stormwater management. Three main irrigation canals, the New Mercer, the Larimer No. 2, and the Arthur Ditch, traverse the Canal Importation Basin, and Spring Creek forms part of the basin’s southern border. The canals, built more than 100 years ago to bring water to farms now covered by residential neighborhoods, hinder the natural drainage in the basin by intercepting it. The canals do transport the water out of the basin, but during times of flooding, the canals fill and overflow, causing water to build up with no escape. Because residents have developed up to the very edges of these irrigation ditches in some places, flooding has serious consequences for those living next to them.[1. “Canal Importation,” City of Fort Collins:Utilities, accessed June 26th, 2014,]

The CIPO drainage improvement project began construction in 1997 and was completed in 2012. The project’s major goals included protecting people and properties from flooding in the Canal Importation Basin as well as restoring and enhancing affected wildlife habitat and natural areas. The project’s main purpose was to develop an outfall for the basin that would collect and convey stormwater runoff within the basin and release it into Spring Creek, as well as create detention ponds for excess water in the area. The project improvements reduced the risk of flooding to the east of the New Mercer Ditch, which included areas that were significantly impacted in the 1997 flood. It improved water quality in the Red Fox Meadows Natural Area and mapped several homes out of the city regulated floodplain in the Canal Importation Basin.[2. “Canal Importation Ponds & Outfall Project,” City of Fort Collins:Utilities, accessed June 26,2014,; “Canal Importation Ponds & Outfall Project: Project Descrption,” City of Fort Collins:Utilities, accessed June 26,2014,; “Canal Importation Ponds and Outfall (CIPO) Project City of Fort Collins, Colorado,” Anderson Consulting Engineers, Inc, accesses June 26, 2014,]