Apple Gate

Upper Black Lake, Photo by Richard Stenzel

Exploring the Viability of Low Head Hydropower in Colorado's Existing Irrigation Infrastructure

Applegate Group and Colorado State University teamed together to study development of agriculturally related small hydro in existing irrigation infrastructure. The study intends to provide information on small hydro development, state-wide, to agricultural water users and policy makers, including guidance on site types, equipment and utility interconnection. Applegate Group is a water resources engineering firm that specializes in raw water conveyance and storage infrastructure as well as water rights, planning and development. Applegate’s clients are both public and private entities who own and operate irrigation and municipal water supply systems. A number of these clients have expressed an interest in producing hydroelectric power, but were generally hesitant to invest without more information. Agricultural water systems have a primary purpose of delivering water to their project beneficiaries. The addition of other components such as generating electricity can be a distraction to the original purpose and it is incumbent on any renewable energy effort to demonstrate that it will enhance existing operations. Building trust with the system owners is the key factor for any project to move to development. Colorado State University’s Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory ( supports an extensive power engineering education and research program.  CSU researchers are actively studying the integration of distributed renewable energy resources into regional and island power systems.

This website has been created to provide access to some of the information contained in the final low head hydro report. A pdf of the full report is available on the previous page. Through this website you will be able to link to low head turbine manufacturers.

The website is divided into the following sections: 

Section 1: Low Head Turbines

Section 2: Interconnection Issues

Section 3: Typical Infrastructure in Colorado