Cache la Poudre Watershed
The Cache la Poudre River Watershed drains approximately 1,056 square miles above the canyon mouth west of Fort Collins, Colorado. The watershed supports the Front Range cities of Fort Collins, Greeley, Timnath and Windsor. In an average year, the watershed produces approximately 274,000 acre feet of water. More than 80 percent of the production occurs during the peak snowmelt months of April through July.
Poudre River Facts
- The Poudre River drains 1,915 square miles – about the size of the state of Delaware
- The Poudre River is 140 miles long, from the headwaters in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) to the confluence with the South Platte River just east of Greeley.
- The Cache la Poudre River is Colorado’s only Wild and Scenic River and was designated in October of 1986. Thirty miles of the river are classified as Wild and 45 miles are classified Recreational. No new dams or diversions can be built within these designated corridors.
- The name Cache la Poudre, is French for "hide the powder," referring to an incident in the 1820's when French Trappers caught in a snowstorm buried part of their gunpowder along the river banks.
National Heritage area
The Cache la Poudre River was also designated a National Heritage Area by Congress in 1996 due to its rich history of early settlers. Their efforts resulted in contributions to agriculture, engineering and law, which advanced the settlement of northern Colorado and the West (Poudre Heritage Alliance, 2013).
High quality drinking water
The Poudre watershed provides our communities with high quality and affordable drinking water. The City of Fort Collins- Utilities Water Quality Reports from 2017 and 2018 found that the Poudre River's water quality is excellent with few treatment concerns. One of the biggest risks to water quality in the watershed is high severity wildfire.