Carter Lake Outlet

 Carter Lake Gate Rehab Project Completed in 2013

Carter Lake
 is located in the foothills west of the town of Berthoud. In 2008, Northern Water and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation finished constructing a second outlet at the reservoir. The new structure supplements but does not replace the original Carter Lake outlet, which was built in the early 1950s.

Carter Lake is part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project and provides water to thousands of acres of agricultural land and more than 300,000 municipal and industrial water users in Larimer, Weld, Morgan, Boulder and Broomfield counties.

Year-round Water Deliveries Prior to 1995, Northern Water delivered water from Carter Lake only during the crop irrigation season (April through October). During winter months, crews maintained and repaired the outlet when it was not in use.

In 1995, Northern Water completed the Southern Water Supply Project, a pipeline that carries Carter Lake water year-round to cities and towns within Northern Water’s boundaries. Year-round municipal and industrial water deliveries represent Northern Water’s largest and fastest growing constituency.

A New Outlet Needed
Carter Lake’s original outlet was intended for large-volume water deliveries during the irrigation and growing season. Year-round releases severely limited Northern Water’s ability to maintain and repair the aging structure.

A February 2004 inspection of the outlet revealed substantial corrosion requiring repairs. Northern Water, with Reclamation's agreement, began planning a new outlet specifically designed for year-round use. 

Greater Operational Flexibility
The new $12 million outlet at Carter Lake provides Northern Water with valuable operational flexibility. The new structure consists of:

  • A 110-foot-tall multi-level intake tower
  • An 800-foot-long tunnel
  • A 400-foot-long penstock (above-ground pipe) connecting the outlet to the St. Vrain Supply Canal
Carter Lake’s newest outlet is essential for delivering reliable water supplies to municipal and industrial users within the central and southern portions of Northern Water boundaries.

Robert V. Trout Hypropower Plant Brochure

Carter Lake Hydro Project Celebrated in Dedication Ceremony

The Robert V. Trout Hydropower Plant is located between the new
Carter Lake outlet and the St. Vrain Supply Canal.

Hydropower Plant Can Serve 1,000 Homes
The Robert V. Trout Hydropower Plant began generating power in May 2012. Located between the new Carter Lake outlet and the St. Vrain Supply Canal, it is the first power structure built, owned and operated by Northern Water.
Northern Water designed Carter Lake’s second outlet with the possibility of adding future hydroelectric power, and began planning  the new facility soon after outlet completion in 2008.
The Trout Hydropower Plant was the first project in the region to receive a Lease of Power Privilege from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, granting the ability to pursue a new hydro facility on the federally-owned Colorado-Big Thompson Project.
In 2011, the Poudre Valley Rural Electric Association signed an agreement with Northern Water to purchase the projected hydroelectric output of 7 to 10 million kilowatt hours a year, or enough to power about 1,000 homes.
Construction Completed in May 2012
Construction began in fall 2011 and was completed in May 2012. The facility includes two 1,300-kilowatt turbines.
The project cost $6 million: $2 million from a Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority low-interest loan, and the remainder from Northern Water’s hydropower enterprise fund. The estimated $600,000 annual gross revenue from the project will defray construction and maintenance costs.
Northern Water’s Board of Directors approved a resolution in 2012 naming the facility the Robert V. Trout Hydropower Plant after attorney Bob Trout, Northern Water legal counsel for more than 35 years. Trout was instrumental in the hydro project, from creation of its money management fund to negotiations with key agencies.
The plant was formally dedicated on May 31, 2012.

The Trout Hydropower Plant includes two 1,300-kilowatt turbines.