Sandhill Cranes in Colorado's San Luis Valley.
Sandhill Cranes in Colorado's San Luis Valley.
Western Rivers Initiative

Colorado Water Plan

Collaborating on Colorado's water future
Sandhill Cranes in Colorado's San Luis Valley. Photo: Arrow Myers
Sandhill Cranes in Colorado's San Luis Valley. Photo: Arrow Myers
Western Rivers Initiative

Colorado Water Plan

Collaborating on Colorado's water future

As a headwaters state, the value of Colorado’s rivers flows far beyond its boundaries. Healthy, flowing rivers support all water uses and users–both wildlife and people. Protecting rivers protects our economy, our birds, and our way of life, but their future is uncertain.

Colorado’s water resources are facing two major threats: population growth and drought. The state’s population is expected to double by 2050. New development on the Front Range will bring increasing demand for water from the Western Slope. With climate change, less precipitation could lead to persistent drought conditions. Current projections estimate that by 2030 there will be a 20% gap between Colorado’s water supply and the demand.

In May 2013, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper directed the state to draft the Colorado Water Plan in order to provide a direction for water resource use in the coming decades. The plan aims to ensure a sufficient supply of water for the various users across the state, including environmental agricultural, municipal, industrial, and recreational needs.

Water forecasts are concerning and, coupled with rapid population growth, put Colorado’s rivers and water supply at risk. Our water leaders need to take immediate steps to avoid the very real possibility of water shortages for both people and the environment. That’s why Audubon Rockies has been engaged in every step of Colorado's Water Plan– from drafting, to finalization in 2015, and onward into implementation.

The Colorado Water Plan contains actions that can improve river health and support clean, reliable drinking water for communities and flourishing economies. But without sufficient and sustainable funding the Water Plan will stall. We can't delay funding its implementation any longer, especially actions found in the Plan that support healthy rivers, agriculture, water conservation, and water efficiency.

We are committed to protecting the health of Colorado’s rivers, ecosystems, and sustainable water supplies—values that benefit everyone. We are working across water interests to show that water connects rather than separates us. Together we can protect Colorado’s incredible rivers.

Explore the resources on this page to learn more about river health and conservation.

News and Resources

Colorado’s Water Leader on the New Water Year
Western Rivers Initiative

Colorado’s Water Leader on the New Water Year

Interview with Becky Mitchell, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board and Colorado commissioner on the Upper Colorado River Commission.

Ranching in the New Normal
Western Rivers Initiative

Ranching in the New Normal

See how three Colorado ranches as they adapt to increasingly drier conditions, and the hope they have for their land and water legacy.

Water: A Hot Topic for Colorado’s Legislators
River News

Water: A Hot Topic for Colorado’s Legislators

January 2019 Western Rivers Newsletter

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Become a River Advocate

Join Audubon's Western Water Action Network (WRAN) to speak up for responsible river management.

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River Resources
Western Rivers Initiative

River Resources

Learn more about river and riparian managment from our downloadable fact sheets.

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River Webinars
Western Rivers Initiative

River Webinars

View past webinars on stream and riparian management.

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