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Help Us Protect Flow for Recreation (CO)

Posted: 05/12/2022
By: Hattie Johnson

The aridification of the Colorado River basin is taking a toll on the water supply of the region. This year marks the 100-year anniversary of the Colorado River Compact, the document that dictates the distribution of water across the seven states and Mexico who rely on it. In the time since the signing of the Compact, large reservoirs have been built to supply water to growing farms, ranches and towns. Those reservoirs are at critically low levels. Cooperative and flexible management is going to be required in our more arid future. AW has a seat at the table in discussing how that flexibility can benefit river health and recreation through cooperation and improved legal mechanisms for stream flow.


In Colorado, it wasn’t until 2001 that there were legal protections for flows for recreation. Glenwood Springs recently received protections for flows on the mainstem Colorado for future generations to enjoy the amazing recreation in Glenwood canyon.



The City of Glenwood Springs first applied for this water right in 2013 and has worked hard to see it through. AW is continuing to work on updating state policy that would make it easier for communities to enhance recreational flows to important stretches of river. The concept is called a recreational in-channel values reach and it allows the community to where and what type of recreation they are hoping to support on their river and provides a tool for the delivery of water to that reach.


AW’s methodology for defining recreational flows is included in the state’s water plan. We have implemented these studies in all major river basins in the state as a result. We need your responses on a currently active study on the South Platte river. The results of these flow preference studies is what would be used to define flows for recreational in-channel values reaches. Please take the survey today!

American Whitewater

Hattie Johnson

Phone: 970-456-8533
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