When you think of water in Colorado, you naturally think of Greeley. Innovation in attaining water was a gift the early Union Colonists bestowed on this town, embedding itself into the very fabric of Greeley, CO.
Early pioneers in Greeley started this water legacy by digging a series of ditches to get water – working ditches that parallel many people’s routes to work now more than 150 years later. But as many stories in the Wild West, population led to increased water needs. Greeley water leaders eventually helped shape Colorado water law, and today work 24/7 to keep the torch lit from the early days. See a timeline of Greeley Water milestones through history.
Drought has forced water providers to increase their supplies and innovate to conserve. Greeley has continued its legacy of water stewardship to become the envy of the states with its diverse water portfolio and its strong water conservation efforts — even in times of increasing population. We do this by:
- Finding new sources of water
- Incorporating more raw water for irrigation
- Helping residents control their water usage through improved technology
- Finding better ways to treat drinking water
Greeley is the first in northern Colorado to use underground aquifer water to add to its diverse water portfolio. Enter Terry Ranch, an isolated, underground source of water containing more than 1.2 million acre-feet of water – enough to secure Greeley’s water future for generations. Greeley will use the underground water during the summer irrigation season when demands increase. This area also will be a place to store excess water during wet years. The water is not subject to evaporation as with the city’s high mountain reservoirs, and it is shielded by impervious shale that naturally keeps pollutants out.
Greeley water also is working hard to save the city ratepayers money by irrigating larger areas such as parks, ballfields, and cemeteries with untreated water. Untreated water costs about $25,000 less per acre-foot than treated water. Water leaders plan to water more areas this way in the future. Using it for large irrigation projects in Greeley saves millions annually – and it saves our treated water for our faucets.
Greeley’s water future is not all about water, per se. Technology plays a big role in Greeley Water’s innovative approach to conservation. In the summer of 2021,Greeley began a project of boosting water meter technology with new smart meters. The city won a $1.5 million Bureau of Reclamation grant to kick off the long-term project. The new meters not only eliminate the need for meter readers driving through neighborhoods, but gives residents more control over their water usage with near real-time usage reporting. The city plans to convert 29,500 meters throughout the city in the next five years.
Water treatment is a fluid process, with treatment improving all of the time. The city has redundancy in treatment with two water treatment plants. That makes it easy to shut down one plant for maintenance without any disruption in water service. Both of Greeley’s treatment plants have and are undergoing upgrades to treat water better, naturally. This will reduce the use of costly chemicals in the future.
As Greeley’s leadership continues its legacy of water innovation, residents can be assured they will get safe, clean, affordable water in their taps.
Interested in learning more about water resources and conservation? Check the Water Conservation site for upcoming programs and events.