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Our Mission, For Our State
The Colorado Water Trust is a private, non-profit organization that engages in and supports voluntary efforts to restore and protect streamflows in Colorado to sustain healthy aquatic ecosystems. These efforts include water acquisitions, other creative transfers of water, on-the-ground physical solutions, and providing technical assistance to land trusts.
Back in the 1800s, early-settling Coloradans began diverting water from the state’s rivers and streams to obtain water for their farms, ranches, mines, industries, and homesteads. Since those early days, increasing amounts of water have been diverted to serve myriad beneficial uses, leaving many rivers, streams, wetlands, and riparian areas water-short.
The 1960s and 1970s were the formative years for the modern environmental movement. In Colorado, concerned citizens noticed that many stream reaches were left dry as water was diverted away from streams to serve beneficial uses. In 1973, the Colorado legislature formally recognized the need to “correlate the activities of mankind with some reasonable preservation of the natural environment.” The passage of Senate Bill 97 created the State’s Instream Flow Program and gave the Colorado Water Conservation Board the exclusive authority to appropriate instream flow water rights and to protect water in a reach of stream.
The Colorado Water Trust (CWT) was formed in 2001 to partner with the State's Instream Flow Program and amplify its work by supporting and promoting voluntary, market-based efforts to protect and restore Colorado’s streamflows. Today, CWT is the only non-profit organization working statewide to transact water deals for conservation benefits. We facilitate the transfer of decreed water rights into the Instream Flow Program. To do this, we work in close partnership with the Colorado Water Conservation Board. We also work on physical projects that restore streamflows, such as moving a headgate, establishing a low-flow channel, or installing a fish-ladder. And we provide technical assistance to the land trust community.