State Water Plan – a historic moment for Colorado’s rivers


From American Rivers:

The cornerstone of any successful company is a solid business plan. Without a plan, your business is rudderless, at the mercy of every whiff of wind and swirling current in the stream. But what if your most valuable asset and the core of your business was not included in that plan?

Colorado is one of two states in the west that does not have a plan to manage its water resources. Sure, Colorado features a complicated system of water laws, some conflicting and most frustrating (and none addressing the philosophy of how our water should be managed) but not a PLAN. That is about to change.

In 2013, Governor Hickenlooper instructed the agency that manages our state’s water (the Colorado Water Conservation Board) to develop a process for establishing a State Water Plan. As you likely know, each of the state’s nine major river basins has a group of people, called a Roundtable, working to establish management and oversight of their local watershed.

Minus the precedent-setting 1922 Colorado River Compact agreement, there likely has not been a more important time in Colorado’s water history than right now. The State Water Plan will establish a mindset, a prioritization, a spirit, about how Colorado approaches and manages our ever-threatened water supply – from the majestic headwaters to the state boundaries where our waters wet 18 other states.

So why should that matter to you?

The beauty of the State Water Plan is that YOU, your business, your employees and your communities have a voice in this process. You get to tell the state, directly and locally, how you think Colorado’s rivers should be managed and how proper planning can promote your business and strengthen Colorado’s economy.

  • You know that keeping water in Colorado’s streams should be a top priority – keeping rivers wet every day (as opposed to taking so much water out of streams that they run dry) is critical for ecological health and as a platform for a healthy recreation economy.
  • You know that conserving water, and finding ways to curb wasteful use rather than build expensive new projects that harm rivers, is prudent and quite frankly, is the right thing to do.
  • You know that promoting agricultural efficiency and conservation both saves money for family farms, but also keeps substantial amounts of water in our streams.
  • And you know that increasing the amount of water taken from one river basin and moved to another, especially west-slope water being pumped to the Front Range, is no longer acceptable. Trans-mountain diversions are a relic of the past.

These points, this philosophy, about respecting our rivers and prioritizing their vitality as more than just a limitless resource, must be made if we hope to have a healthy recreation economy going forward. Make your voice heard – here’s how:

1)     Navigate your Internet browser to, and click on the Take Action tab at the top of the page.

2)     Fill out the personal information and make your comments in the box – emphasizing the four points from above is the best way to keep our rivers wet.

3)     Emphasize that you are an outfitter, and your financial success depends on the long-term health and sustainability of these rivers.

4)     Be sure to click the Submit button at the bottom.

By participating in the State Water Plan, you are participating in history, and helping to forge a path and a philosophy that the health of our state’s rivers is important. They are the cornerstone of your business, our economy, and our lifestyle in Colorado – they are why we are here. Now is the time to lend your voice to these amazing places that makes us who we are.

Sinjin Eberle is the Associate Director for Communications with American Rivers. He is also the Immediate Past-President of Colorado Trout Unlimited.


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