article photo 3

Colorado's Water Plan Released: Let’s Go Save Some Rivers

Posted: 11/19/2015
by Nathan Fey

DENVER - Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper was presented with Colorado's first Statewide Water Plan Thursday morning. He called the project a historic step for the state of Colorado.

Members of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Colorado's water community, and 150 attendees were on hand for the presentation of the Final plan, which was delivered ahead of its initial December deadline.

 In the spring of 2013, Hickenlooper directed the Colorado Water Conservation Board to work with local communities to develop the plan, which would be used as a road map to put the state and its eight major river basins on a more collaborative and cooperative path towards managing water in our rivers, reservoirs, and backyards.

 The final version of the plan reflects the grassroots discussions that began with the Basin Roundtable process in 2005. Those involved in the process include American Whitewater, water providers, agricultural organizations, environmental groups, the General Assembly, local government and the business community.

    The plan reflects Coloradans’ values and water priorities and makes important progress by:
    â-¦    Setting the first-ever state-wide water conservation targets in cities and towns, prioritizing water conservation as never before
    â-¦    Proposing annual funding for healthy rivers, creating ongoing unprecedented financial support for river assessments and restoration.
    â-¦    Putting into action, studies that help us manage flows for recreation.

    â-¦    Making much less likely new, costly and controversial large trans-mountain diversions, which harm rivers and local communities

The plan sets a very reasonable urban conservation goal of saving 400,000 acre-feet of water by 2050, which equates to nearly 1% per year water use reduction in our cities and towns - reducing the need for more diversions from our whitewaer rivers. This is a significant and precedent-setting move, as Colorado has never had a conservation target before. Many neighboring states have a similar conservation goal, including Utah’s goal of reducing water use by 25% by 2025. It’s important to note that in Colorado we are already on this course as a state, and that the final plan proposes incentives, funding and technical support to get it done. 

Today is a big day for Colorado river lovers. The long-awaited state water plan has been released, we’re happy to say that years of hard work on this by river enthusiasts across the state, have paid off. For the first time ever, the plan addresses the importance of preserving and restoring our rivers’ and streams’ environmental resiliency.  Recognizing we don’t know yet how to achieve that goal, the plan recommends that Colorado invest in unprecedented stream protection and restoration, starting with stream management plans for 80% of the rivers and streams Colorado’s basin roundtables have prioritized. 

AW is ramping up our engagement in these plannign efforts, and will be playing a role in helping the State implelemting the action items outlined by the Plan. There’s still a LOT of work to be done.

Our state’s legendary rivers are under unprecedented stress, and keeping them flowing is not an easy job as the climate warms and dries and demands on water from cities and farms escalate. So we need to make sure the good stuff in this plan actually happens. Let’s go save some Colorado rivers.


Colorado Stewardship Director
Nathan Fey
1601 Longs Peak Ave.
Longmont, CO 80501
Phone: 303-859-8601