Rawhide is operated as a zero-liquid discharge facility which means all cooling water, process water, and industrial stormwater is managed on-site. This unique system saves water and minimizes the possibility of facility discharges. Most of the water stored in the 500 surface acres Hamilton Reservoir is used in Rawhide's closed-loop cooling cycle. Water flows from the reservoir into the plant where it is used for cooling steam. The temperature of the water increases during the process before it is discharged back to the reservoir to be used again. Process water used in the air quality control system and ash sluicing water are reused before ultimately being consumed in the plant processes.

Hamilton reservoir is underlain by naturally occurring highly impermeable clay and shale strata that minimizes seepage, although, due to the arid conditions, some evaporation does occur.

The majority of the water stored in the reservoir is secondary-treated effluent originating from the City of Fort Collins Drake Water Reclamation Facility. This "reused" water is transported to Rawhide through a 26-mile long, 24-inch diameter pipeline. Before the water is released to the reservoir it goes through an on-site treatment process where additional impurities are removed. This use of wastewater effluent in place of higher quality water frees up resources that benefit local communities.

Learn more about Platte River's water resources, including the history behind Platte River’s various assets and operating agreements, a summary of current water-related operations and projects at Platte River and estimates of Platte River’s future water demands and operations. Platte River's Water Resources Reference Document is updated annually.

Hamilton reservoir and parked cars
2021 Water Resources Reference Document

Windy Gap Firming Project

Platte River is one of 12 entities participating in the Windy Gap Firming Project, which entails construction of a dedicated reservoir to store Windy Gap water using existing water rights. The Windy Gap Firming Project (Chimney Hollow Reservoir) is needed to support long-term reliable delivery of Platte River’s Windy Gap water.

For Platte River, the Windy Gap Firming Project will increase water resource reliability for current and future electric generation operations by providing a firm supply of Windy Gap water. Rawhide Energy Station relies on Windy Gap water for service, process and cooling water needs as well as to fulfill its water exchange requirements under the Reuse Agreement with the City of Fort Collins.

As currently configured, the Windy Gap project is unable to pump from its source on the Colorado River during wet periods due to the lack of dedicated storage capacity as well as during dry periods due to the lack of available water supply. The Windy Gap Firming Project will provide Platte River and all project participants with a reliable water supply by allowing pumping and storage during wet periods and a reserve to draw upon during dry periods. As northern Colorado faces projected water shortfalls in the coming decades, this collaborative project will help ensure water supplies are available to help meet the needs of the region, Platte River and Platte River’s owner communities.

The permitting process of the project has concluded, and all state and federal permits have been issued. In 2019, the design phase was completed, and a general contractor was selected. Mitigation and pre-construction activities are on-going and will continue until construction commences. Current projections indicate that the project will begin construction in late 2020, will last approximately four years and will begin by 2024 or 2025.

For more detailed information, visit Northern Water's website

Proposed Chimney Hollow facilities