The mission of Colorado Water Trust is to restore flows to Colorado's rivers in need.
Colorado's rivers need water. We make sure they have it! Since 2001, Colorado Water Trust has restored 16.8 billion gallons of water to 588 miles of Colorado's rivers and streams.
In the year 2000, Colorado was heading into the worst drought the region had ever seen and rivers and communities were deeply threatened. The state agency, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), was helping communities restore and protect water in rivers, but it relied mainly on donations of water rights and with extreme drought conditions, Colorado's rivers needed more help. A group of water lawyers, engineers, and conservationists got together to explore new ways to quickly boost flows in Colorado's rivers.
Our founders saw that with some creativity and new thinking, solutions for restoring flows to rivers already existed within the current water distribution system. By turning traditional water laws upside down, and compensating water users for their water, they could take the tools and systems that were created to withdraw water from rivers, and instead use them to do just the opposite: return water to rivers. Charged with a mission to restore flows to Colorado's rivers in need, in the year 2001, they founded Colorado Water Trust.
Today, we work closely with over 50 partners every year from municipalities, food producers, state and federal agencies, fellow nonprofits, and more, to find creative solutions that help us share water with the environment during critical times of need.
We are the pre-eminent environmental water transactions expert in Colorado, committed to a future where water is shared efficiently and with low transactional cost or friction. It is a future that climate change has forced our state to embrace, and we are leading the way.
"I support the Colorado Water Trust because I believe they are one of the most active and creative organizations when it comes to protecting the rivers and streams that make Colorado a unique and beautiful place. I am confident that my monthly gift is being used to support projects where tangible results can be realized."
- Brett Bovee, Monthly Donor
"The Colorado Water Trust continues to develop and test innovative, new solutions that effectively balance the needs of water users and rivers. Their work is helping demonstrate new approaches to water management, where healthy rivers and agriculture can exist side by side"
- Todd Reeve, Bonneville Environmental Foundation
"Two dry winters in a row have left Colorado's mountains bare and our reservoirs dangerously low. Dealing with unpredictable weather is part of our way of life in the West, but the long-term effects of this ongoing drought demand that we act now. What can we do to address the challenges severe drought poses to our most precious resource, water, and the waterways local businesses, farmers and residents rely upon? The Colorado Water Trust's short-term leasing program, Request for Water, is one tool that keeps streamflows up during dry times. It is a laudable effort to improve the health of our rivers and streams and benefit water users at the same time."
- Mark Udall, former U.S. Senator for Colorado
"The Colorado Water Trust should be commended and thanked for their outstanding efforts in 2012 to cooperate and collaborate with water users, within the flexibility provided by Colorado water law. Their [Request for Water 2012] program supplemented drought affected in-stream flows in a positive manner. Colorado Water Trust's efforts will be even more important in 2013 as the drought continues to adversely affect stream flows."
- Eric Wilkinson, former General Manager of Northern Water
"The Colorado Water Trust's water leasing program is an effective and meaningful mechanism to protect Colorado's natural environments while ensuring a balance with traditional consumptive water uses. The prospect of temporarily leasing water rights in conjunction with the state's existing instream flow water program is especially beneficial during times of critical drought. The [Request for Water] program provides a potential opportunity for farmers and ranchers to realize economic value for their water assets without having to sell those assets."
- Eric Kuhn, former General Manager of Colorado River District