Windy Gap Project History

Formal efforts to develop and construct the Windy Gap Project began in the summer of 1967 when Longmont Mayor Ralph Price filed for water rights on the Colorado River near Granby. Price was acting as trustee for a coalition of six Northern Colorado cities: Boulder, Estes Park, Fort Collins, Greeley, Longmont and Loveland.

A Geologic Cut Called Windy Gap
The project they jointly pursued is located on the West Slope near a natural geologic cut called Windy Gap, just below the confluence of the Colorado and Fraser rivers. The cities envisioned Windy Gap as a water source to meet the future needs of the rapidly growing Northern Front Range.

After studying growth rates and water supply demand projections, the six cities chose to pursue the Windy Gap Project to meet their future municipal needs.

Municipal Subdistrict Formed
In 1969, the participants realized that the work and expertise needed to build Windy Gap Project required a stronger organization than they could provide independently. The Municipal Subdistrict of Northern Water was formally established on July 6, 1970 with the same powers and legal standing as the parent Northern Water.

Following completion and approval of an Environmental Impact Statement and acquisition of 23 permits and licenses, Windy Gap Project construction began in July 1981. The project was completed in 1985 and began delivering water to Municipal Subdistrict allottees in July.

Today, the Windy Gap Project consists of a diversion dam on the Colorado River that creates the 445-acre-foot Windy Gap Reservoir, a pumping plant and a six-mile pipeline to Lake Granby.

Windy Gap Pump Plant construction
Windy Gap Pump Plant construction in the early 1980s 

Windy Gap Firming Project Proposed
The Windy Gap Project is capable of diverting 48,000 acre feet of water each year. Currently Windy Gap water is pumped and stored in Lake Granby before it is delivered to water users via the Colorado-Big Thompson Project’s East Slope distribution system. However, during wet cycles Lake Granby is often full, leaving little or no space for Windy Gap water.

Additional storage, contemplated since the Windy Gap Project’s inception, will provide more reliable Windy Gap water deliveries. The Windy Gap Firming Project would include a 90,000-acre-foot  reservoir at Chimney Hollow in the foothills west of Carter Lake.

For a detailed history of Windy Gap, download the Windy Gap Project Brochure.