The Big Thompson River and its tributaries support nearly one million people on Colorado’s Front Range, providing water for drinking, agriculture, business, and recreation. With a rapidly growing population, it is more important than ever to protect this crucial water source.
Through a Cooperative Monitoring Program, the Forum contracts with the U.S. Geological Survey to collect water samples monthly (February to November) at sites within the Big Thompson Watershed, including the mainstem Big Thompson River, the North Fork, Little Thompson, Buckhorn Creek, Adams Tunnel, and Olympus Tunnel at Estes Park. Data from the samples are then sent to the Forum to be analyzed for more than 30 water-quality parameters, including nutrients, metals, bacteria, total organic carbon, and physical parameters such as temperature and flow. The Forum compares the results to federal, state, and local guidelines to ensure compliance with current water-quality standards.
Our Monitoring Program is funded through the support of both major and minor funders who have a vested interest in water quality, and by donations from the general public, which makes it possible for us to collect samples from additional sites. The Forum produces annual water quality reports, as well as a comprehensive five-year “State of the Watershed” report.
By continuously monitoring sites in the Big Thompson River and its tributaries, the Forum serves as a steward of the watershed—helping to improve and sustain the health of the environment and ensure safe drinking water and wildlife habitat.