Index: Environment / Subcategory: Use of Resources

Water Consumption

Date updated: 03/19/2013

Water consumption refers to water removed from the immediate water environment through evaporation, leakage, incorporation into products or crops, and/or ingestion by humans or livestock, etc. Water is consumed for a variety of purposes including: public supply, commercial/ industrial, domestic/ residential, thermoelectric power, livestock, mining, and irrigation. (See definitions)

The following information focuses primarily on the main consumers of potable water in the Cities of Fort Collins and Loveland. However, it should be noted that of all water consumed in Larimer County (2005), 83% was used for crop irrigation, while approximately 7% was used for domestic purposes (United States Geological Survey). See map of the main water supply channels and area water districts.

What this chart shows: Average Annual Streamflow (by Elevation) at Larimer County Testing Sites, 2011 vs. 2012

Data Source: United States Geological Survey National Water Information System

See data table

What the above data tell us:

Normally, the testing sites with the highest streamflow discharge in Larimer County include the Cache La Poudre in Fort Collins, North Fork and Timnath, and the Big Thompson River at Moraine Park. This is primarily due to converging water systems and the use of feeder canals to bring water to the areas of population. As drought conditions in Larimer worsened in 2012, streamflow dropped precipitately. The Cache La Poudre at Livermore, Fort Collins, and Timnath dropped more than 75% in 2012.

As the populations along the northern Front Range grow, water shortages appear imminent. Projects like the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) are examples of communities in northern Colorado planning for future water supply needs.

What this chart shows: Average Annual Streamflow in Major Rivers in Larimer County, 1993-2012

Note: Water sampling sites were in Fort Collins and Loveland (Cache La Poudre and Big Thompson, respectively).

Data Source: United States Geological Survey National Water Information System

See data table

What the above data tell us:

The most recent drought in Larimer County began in 2000. The drought reached its highest severity in 2002 for the Cache La Poudre River and 2003 and again in 2007 for the Big Thompson River. Recent data appears to show that area rivers are experiencing unusually long drought conditions, however when viewed historically the drought may be part of a natural cycle. Most annual streamflow in the western United States originates as snowfall that has accumulated in the mountains during winter and early spring. See the Colorado Basin Outlook Report for more information.

What this chart shows: Total Water Consumption in Fort Collins & Loveland, 2003-2012

Data Sources:

See data table

What the above data tell us:

During the period 2003-2012, Fort Collins used an average of 8.3 billion gallons of water per year, while Loveland averaged 3.6 billion gallons per year. Between 2003 and 2012, total water consumption in Fort Collins increased 5.8% and 38.1% in Loveland.

In 2005, Coloradoans [pdf] consumed 13.6 billion gallons of water per day, 7th among the states in total water withdrawals. The high usage is the result of statewide irrigation, utilizing 12.3 billion gallons a day (Colorado ranks 3rd in this category). In Public Sector water usage (the focus of this data) Coloradoans consumed 894 million gallons a day (16th in the nation).

Additional Information:

Main Water Sources:

Fort Collins:

Loveland:

Related Information on COMPASS:

Other Resources:

Industry Standards or Target: N/A

Data Tables:

Average Annual Streamflow (by Elevation)- Larimer County Testing Sites

Testing Site

Elevation (ft. above sea level)

Cubic Feet per Second

2011

2012

Joe Wright Creek (above Reservoir)

9,990 10.1 4.5

Joe Wright Creek (below Reservoir)

9,710 26.0 8.6

Big Thompson River - Moraine Park

8,005 93.7 32.3

Cache La Poudre River (North Fork) Below Halligan Reservoir

6,310 105.6 35.0

Cache La Poudre River (North Fork) Livermore

5,715 70.8 10.3

Cache La Poudre River- Fort Collins

4,940 350.0 84.9

Big Thompson River- Loveland

4,906 45.1 51.7

Cache La Poudre River- Timnath

4,860 287.1 56.3

See chart

Average Annual Streamflow (Cubic feet per Second) in Major Rivers of Larimer County

 

Big Thompson

Cache La Poudre

1993

35 133

1994

32 64

1995

170 256

1996

36 179

1997

105 254

1998

82 166

1999

95 329

2000

39 83

2001

31 50

2002

35 33

2003

27 74

2004

50 76

2005

62 115

2006

45 93

2007

27 81

2008

30 96

2009

30 111

2010

79 250

2011

45 350

2012

52 85

See chart

Total Water Consumption (Millions of Gallons)

Fort Collins

Loveland

2003

8,280

3,034

2004

7,982

2,962

2005

8,497

3,353

2006

9,268

4,001

2007

8,860

3,788

2008

8,352

3,786

2009

7,391

3,218

2010

7,830

3,573

2011

7,621

3,670

2012

8,757

4,189

See chart