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.