About Colorado's Water Plan

Water in western Colorado

Colorado's Water Plan leveraged and integrated the work accomplished by Colorado's nine Basin Roundtables, the Interbasin Compact Committee, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), and partners and stakeholders statewide since 2005 to determine how to implement water supply planning solutions that meet Colorado's future water needs while supporting healthy watersheds and the environment, robust recreation and tourism economies, vibrant and sustainable cities, and viable and productive agriculture.

Since the 2002-2003 drought, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) has been leading the most comprehensive analysis of Colorado water ever undertaken through the Statewide Water Supply Initiative. As a result, we know more today than we have ever known about Colorado\'s future water demand: what supplies are available, how much water the state needs for consumptive and non-consumptive needs, and much more. The research shows that the gap between water supply and demand is growing. Within the next few decades, even assuming aggressive conservation and the completion of dozens of water projects currently being considered, the state could face a shortfall that exceeds 500,000 acre feet annually. In a single year, the state of Colorado has experienced severe drought followed by severe flooding. This climactic variability in Colorado\'s water supply emphasizes the need to strategically plan for the future, now more than ever. Without a thoughtful, educated, and measured response to this problem we run the risk of compromising Colorado's future of being one of the best places in the nation to live and work.

The work of the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC) and Basin Roundtables has made the development of Colorado's Water Plan possible. The 27 members of the IBCC, representing every water basin and water interest in Colorado, have agreed that unless action is taken, we will face an undesirable future for Colorado with unacceptable consequences. The IBCC has reached consensus on a number of actions that Colorado must take in the near term to secure our water future. These include conservation, alternative methods of utilizing agricultural water that doesn't result in the permanent dry-up of farmland, and support for water projects that meet certain factors. The Basin Roundtables have brought together leaders from each of Colorado's major river basins and the Denver metro area to map out their own basin's needs and water future, to engage in facilitated discussions on water issues, and to develop locally-driven, collaborative solutions.

With the help of hundreds of stakeholders and over 30,000 comments from interested persons across the state, the CWCB delivered the final Colorado's Water Plan to the CWCB Board and Colorado Governor's Office on November 19, 2015.With the plan finalized, the Colorado water community has shifted to implementation of the measurable objectives and critical actions set forth in the plan to ensure that Colorado can meet its future water needs and continues to be a thriving state to work, play, and live.


Photo credit: Matt Nager