Ensure a sustainable water future through new storage and increased conservation

Why is this important to Colorado?

Colorado’s iconic mountains, rivers, minerals, plains, communities, forests, snow, wildlife, and wilderness have drawn people by the millions to our centennial state. Colorado’s population has ballooned from 1 million in 1930 to over 5 million today, and could nearly double by 2050.  Managing water resources in Colorado is challenging due to variable climatic conditions, aging infrastructure, and increasing funding needs. Therefore, with an unpredictable water supply and growing demand, Colorado will likely experience a significant water supply gap by 2050.  Meeting that gap in a balanced manner that protects the water that we drink, that grows our food, and that sustains the environment we enjoy is an issue that affects every Coloradan. 

How do we measure success?

  • Increase acre-feet of water storage (e.g. reservoirs) in Colorado.  In FY 2016-17, water providers added 17,000 acre-feet of new water storage with the assistance of state loans and grants.  The state’s goal is to increase water storage by 400,000 acre feet by 2050 to responsibly close the water supply gap.  
  • Increase water conservation in Colorado.  Water providers reported 48,000 acre feet of water conservation in FY 2016-17. The state’s goal is to increase water conservation by 400,000 acre feet by 2050 to responsibly close the water supply gap.
Status Outcome Measure 2016 Outcome Baseline 2017 Actual 2018 Actual 2018 Outcome Measure

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# acre-feet of water storage created which has state financial support N/A 17,000 22,067 22,000

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# of acre-feet conserved as reported through approved conservation plans and the 1051 database N/A 48,000 50,000 50,000
Source: Colorado Water Conservation Board

What actions are we taking?

  • The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) supports water storage projects in Colorado through loans and grants that are used to leverage local and state funding for reservoir construction and maintenance.  CWCB also provides 50/50 match grants for water storage feasibility studies.
  • CWCB works with water provides to create and track water conservation plans (1051 Database).  CWCB provides grants to water providers to assist with water conservation efforts.  
  • As called for in the State Water Plan, CWCB will complete its Statewide Water Supply Initiative study in June 2018 that will help Colorado better project water storage needs and conservation related milestones into the future.
  • CWCB supports endangered species recovery through the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program (UC Program), the San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program (SJ Program), and the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (PRRIP).
  • CWCB works with local governments and other governmental entities to provide technical and financial assistance to plans, studies, and project designs leading to effective flood mitigation measures.
  • CWCB supports healthy riparian ecosystems and keeps more water in stream by supporting removal of non-native vegetation, including tamarisk.
  • CWCB engages the agricultural community on programs that benefit water quality and water conservation.