• IT'S OUR 15TH ANNIVERSARY! Let's Celebrate!


    We are thrilled to share our 15th anniversary with you. Stay tuned for many new and fun activities and ways for you to engage with us this year.

    Help us prepare for the next 15 years by making a donation today!

  • THANK YOU! You helped us fill Colorado's rivers for 2016!


    Over 175 people gave $50,695 for our annual Headwaters fundraising campaign, helping us restore and protect Colorado's rivers in 2016.

    Your support helps us return real, measurable water to our dry rivers, including the beautiful Yampa River that flows through Steamboat Springs.

  • OUR WORK: Learn how we restore river flows.


    In our 15-year history, the Colorado Water Trust has put 23 flow restoration projects on the ground, returning water to 25 rivers and streams.

    The Roaring Fork River that runs through the City of Aspen, nearly dries up every summer. Learn how the Colorado Water Trust and its partners are boosting flows.


Groundbreaking State Law Tested in Colorado Headwaters Stream

The infamous use-it-or lose-it rule is arguably the biggest barrier to water conservation and river-flow restoration in the western United States. It basically says that if anyone holding water rights does not put them to full use, the unused portion can be taken away and allocated to serve the needs of another water user.... 

Perversely, the use-it-or-lose-it principle gives water rights holders an incentive to waste water so that they don’t risk losing any of their increasingly valuable water rights.

Bit by bit, however, new state laws and innovative projects are chipping away at this outdated rule, and keeping rivers flowing for fish, wildlife and local communities. A groundbreaking 2013 Colorado law provides new flexibility that allows water rights owners to allocate water to a river during times of critical low flow.


Sandra Postel of National Geographic's Freshwater Initiative and Todd Reeve of the Bonneville Environmental Foundation wrote about our project on Willow Creek for National Geographic's Water Currents: Insights into the World of Freshwater blog.

Can My Water Help?

Can My Water Help?

Are you a water user wondering how you might use your water rights to restore flows in your local streams? You’ve come to the right place.

The Colorado Water Trust team works with willing water users to improve streamflows in water-short streams.