Department of Agriculture (USDA)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) develops and executes policy on farming, agriculture and food. Its aims include meeting the needs of farmers and ranchers, promoting agricultural trade and production, assuring food safety, protecting natural resources, fostering rural communities and ending hunger in America and abroad.

  • Agricultural Research Service (ARS): The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is the USDA’s chief scientific in-house research agency. ARS works to ensure that Americans have reliable, adequate supplies of high-quality food and other agricultural products. ARS accomplishes its goals through scientific discoveries that help solve problems in crop and livestock production and protection, human nutrition and the interaction of agriculture and the environment.
    • Agricultural Research Service (ARS) – Plains Area: The Plains Area is one of five administrative regions under the USDA’s ARS, and is home to 42% of the Nation’s rangeland, one-third of its cropland, 13% of its surface water, and the largest wildlife habitats of any region in the lower 48 states. This is in addition to the area’s approximately $34 billion annual crop and livestock value. To sustain and enhance this agricultural productivity and natural resources, ARS scientists at 22 locations in the 10-state Plains Area conduct research on bioenergy, global climate change, human nutrition, water management, sustainable agriculture, soil management, crop protection, animal health, food animal production, food safety, manure and byproduct utilization, plant biology, plant diseases, plant genetics, rangelands, crop production, air quality and veterinary entomology.
  • Economic Research Service (ERS): The Economic Research Service (ERS) is a primary source of economic information and research in the USDA, and is responsible for informing and enhancing public and private decision making on economic and policy issues related to agriculture, food, the environment and rural development.
    • Economic Research Service (ERS) – Resource & Rural Economics Division (RRED): The Resource and Rural Economics Division of the Economic Research Service (ERS) conducts research in three main areas: the interactions among natural resources, environmental quality and agricultural production and consumption; the economics of agricultural research and development and technological change; and the structure and financial performance of the agricultural sector and the rural economy.
  • Farm Service Agency (FSA): The Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers farm commodity, crop insurance, credit, environmental, conservation and emergency assistance programs for farmers and ranchers.
    • Farm Service Agency (FSA) – Colorado: The Colorado Farm Service Agency (FSA) assists Colorado farmers and ranchers in securing the greatest possible benefit from programs administered by FSA, such as farm loans, commodity programs, disaster relief, conservation and other available resources.
  • Forest Service (FS or USFS): The Forest Service (FS) administers programs for applying sound conservation and utilization practices to natural resources of the national forests and national grasslands, for promoting these practices on all forest lands through cooperation with states and private landowners, and for carrying out extensive forest and range research.
    • Forest Service (FS or USFS) – Rocky Mountain Region (Region 2): The Rocky Mountain Region (Region 2) manages resources and activities across more than 22 million acres of forest and grassland in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. A forest supervisor leads each of the 11 National Forest and Grassland units, which are divided into ranger districts. The Rocky Mountain Region has formally identified three overarching themes as emphasis areas on which to focus strategic long-term efforts to preserve their special values: Forest and Grassland Health, Recreation and Water.
  • National Agricultural Library (NAL): The National Agricultural Library (NAL) provides technical information on agricultural research and related subjects to scientists, educators and farmers using computer databases; coordinates and is primary resource for national network of state land grant university and field libraries; and serves as the U.S. center for the international agriculture information system. Major topics of resource materials found in the NAL include agricultural law, animals and livestock, education and outreach, farms and farming systems, food and human nutrition, marketing and trade, natural resources and environment, plants and crops, research and technology, rural development, and visual arts and agricultural history.
  • Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS): The National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is the primary federal agency that works with private landowners to help them conserve, maintain and improve their natural resources. The Agency emphasizes voluntary, science-based conservation; technical assistance; partnerships; incentive-based programs; and cooperative problem solving at the community level. A few of their programs and services include Conservation Innovation Grants, the Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Emergency Watershed Protection Program, an array of Technical Resources and Snow and Soil Surveys.
    • National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) – Colorado: NRCS Colorado soil conservationists, soil scientists, agronomists, ecologists, engineers, planners and other specialists promote land stewardship by providing technical assistance through teams to address surface and groundwater quality; wetlands, riparian areas, and biodiversity; aquatic and terrestrial habitat; and impacts of land use changes. NRCS teams work on all of Colorado’s vast landscapes in partnership with the American people to conserve natural resources on private lands.

Department of Commerce (DOC)
The Department of Commerce (DOC) is the government agency tasked with improving living standards for all Americans by promoting economic development and technological innovation. The department supports U.S. business and industry through a number of services, including gathering economic and demographic data, issuing patents and trademarks, improving understanding of the environment and oceanic life and ensuring the effective use of scientific and technical resources. The agency also formulates telecommunications and technology policy, and promotes U.S. exports by assisting and enforcing international trade agreements.

  • National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is America’s environmental intelligence agency, providing timely, reliable and actionable information—based on sound science—every day to millions of Americans. NOAA’s products and services are used by decision makers around the country to better understand risk and prepare for the future.

Department of Defense (DOD)
The Department of Defense (DOD) manages an inventory of national security installations and facilities, as well as provide military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of the United States.

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE or Corps): As the nation’s environmental engineer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE or Corps) manages one of the largest federal environmental missions: restoring degraded ecosystems; constructing sustainable facilities; regulating waterways; managing natural resources; and, cleaning up contaminated sites from past military activities.
    • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE or Corps) – Northwest Division: The Northwestern Division is nearly 2,000 miles wide, enveloping all or part of 14 states (WA, OR, ID, MT, WY, CO, ND, SD, NE, KS, MO, IA, and MN), 65 Congressional districts and 107 sovereign tribal nations. It is organized to manage its districts’ civil works activities based on river basins, and the primary civil works missions encompass flood control, navigation, hydropower, fish and wildlife, water quality and irrigation, recreation, and disaster response. Military boundaries are organized along state lines, and major military programs include providing design and construction support to key Army and Air Force installations and managing almost two million acres of military real estate for the DOD. An environmental restoration program oversees cleanup of hazardous, toxic and radioactive sites for the military, the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies.
    • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE or Corps) – South Pacific Division: The South Pacific Division contains all or part of 10 states (CA, AZ, NV, NM, CO, OR, ID, WY and TX) and 170 Native American Nations within its boundaries. The civil works program is oriented around major regional watersheds and leverages federal resources for navigation, flood damage reduction and ecosystem restoration. There are more than 300 threatened and endangered species in the region, and the Division issues regulatory permits under the Clean Water Act for development in the nation’s waters and wetlands, balancing environmental stewardship with the need for economic and urban growth.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for preventing and disrupting terrorist attacks; protecting the American people, our critical infrastructure and key resources; and responding to and recovering from incidents that do occur.

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for reducing the loss of life and property and protecting communities nationwide from all hazards, including natural disasters, acts of terrorism and other man-made disasters. FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery and mitigation.
    • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – Region VIII: FEMA’s Region VIII works in partnership with the emergency management agencies of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming to prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. Region VIII’s most common challenges are flooding, severe storms, tornadoes and winter storms.

Department of the Interior (DOI)
The Department of the Interior (DOI) is the nation’s principal conservation agency. Its mission is to protect America’s natural resources, offer recreation opportunities, conduct scientific research, conserve and protect fish and wildlife, and honor our trust responsibilities to American Indians, Alaskan Natives, and our responsibilities to island communities.

  • Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA): The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) provides services directly or through contracts, grants or compacts to 566 federally recognized tribes with a service population of about 1.9 million American Indian and Alaska Natives. While the role of Indian Affairs has changed significantly in the last three decades in response to a greater emphasis on Indian self-governance and self-determination, Tribes still look to Indian Affairs for a broad spectrum of services, including but not limited to: an education system, social services, natural resources management on trust lands, economic development programs, administration of tribal courts, implementation of land and water claim settlements, and operation of a series irrigation systems. Delivery of program services is administered by the twelve regional offices and 83 agencies.
    • Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) – Southwest Region: The Southwest Region of the BIA includes all of Colorado and the majority of New Mexico, with the exception of northwest Mexico where the Navajo Region resides. The Regional Director represents the Southwest Region in dealing with other governmental and tribal entities, and is charged with the responsibility to work toward strengthening intergovernmental assistance to all the Federally-recognized tribes within the region.
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM): The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages public land resources for a wide variety of uses, while protecting a wide array of natural, cultural and historical resources. It administers more public land – over 245 million surface acres – than any other Federal agency in the United States. Most of this land is located in the 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also manages 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation.
    • Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – Colorado: BLM Colorado manages 8.4 million acres of public lands and 29 million acres of subsurface mineral estate in Colorado. BLM also administrates about 310 buildings located on 44 administrative sites and 11 recreation sites, and is responsible for maintaining a transportation system consisting of about 4,000 miles of roads, 1,215 miles of trails and 20 bridges.
  • Bureau of Reclamation (BOR or USBR): The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR or USBR) is a contemporary water management agency with a Strategic Plan outlining numerous programs, initiatives and activities that will help the Western States, Native American Tribes and others meet new water needs and balance competing uses of water in the West. Their mission is to assist in meeting the increasing water demands of the West while protecting the environment and the public’s investment in those structures. For administrative support, the 17 Bureau of Reclamation states were divided into regions with each tasked with project planning, public and water-user relations, and supervision of project operation and maintenance. Additionally, regional offices also negotiate power contracts in accord with the policies of the Interior Department’s Power Division, coordination of construction projects with other Reclamation operations, and general administration of regional and project organizations and programs.
    • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR or USBR) – Great Plains: The Great Plains Region is the largest and most ecologically diverse region in Reclamation, encompassing all or parts of nine western states and extending from the Canadian border to the southern tip of Texas. States within this region include all of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma, the majority of Montana, Wyoming and Texas, and Colorado east of the Continental Divide.
    • U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR or USBR) – Upper Colorado Region: The Upper Colorado Region includes the majority of Utah and New Mexico, southwest Wyoming, Colorado west of the Continental Divide, Texas west of the Pecos River and small portions of northeast Arizona and western Nevada.
  • National Park Service (NPS): The National Park Service (NPS) is responsible for preserving the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations. The National Park System covers more than 84 million acres and is comprised of 409 sites with 28 different designations. These include 128 historical parks or sites, 78 national monuments, 59 national parks, 25 battlefields or military parks, 19 preserves, 18 recreation areas, 10 seashores, four parkways, four lakeshores and two reserves.
  • Office of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement (OSMRE): The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) is responsible for establishing a nationwide program to protect society and the environment from the adverse effects of surface coal mining operations, under which OSMRE is charged with balancing the nation’s need for continued domestic coal production with protection of the environment. OSMRE is also responsible for reclaiming and restoring lands and water degraded by mining operations before 1977, overseeing state mining and cleanup programs and developing new tools to help states move towards completion, as well as furthering the science of reclaiming mined lands and protecting the environment.
    • Office of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement (OSMRE) – Western Region: The Western Region performs an oversight role for states in the region that have primacy and regulate surface coal mining activities and reclamation on lands within their jurisdiction. The Western Region has primacy for surface coal mining activities and reclamation that occur on Indian and Federal Lands in the west, as well as the state of Washington. States within this region include Alaska, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
  • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS or FWS): The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS or FWS) works towards to the conservation, protection and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The agency is responsible for enforcing federal wildlife laws, protecting endangered species, managing migratory birds, restoring nationally significant fisheries, conserving and restoring wildlife habitat such as wetlands, helping foreign governments with their international conservation efforts, and Distributing hundreds of millions of dollars, through our Wildlife Sport Fish and Restoration program, in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.
    • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS or FWS) – Mountain-Prairie Region: The Mountain-Prairie Region consists of 8 states in the heart of the American West, including Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming, and is defined by three distinct landscapes: the central and northern Great Plains to the east, the Rocky Mountains and intermountain areas beyond the Continental Divide to the west, and millions of shallow wetlands known as the “prairie potholes” in the northeastern portion of the region.
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS): The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is the Nation’s largest water, earth and biological science and civilian mapping agency, and it collects, monitors, analyzes and provides scientific understanding about natural resource conditions, issues and problems.
    • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) – Water Resources of the United States: Water is one of six science mission areas of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Water’s mission is to collect and disseminate reliable, impartial, and timely information that is needed to understand the Nation’s water resources.
      • USGS Colorado Water Science Center: The USGS conducts its water-resources activities in Colorado in formal partnerships with more than 100 other organizations representing all levels of government. The USGS Colorado Water Science Center operates statewide data-collection networks for streamflow, water quality and groundwater levels, and is also conducting studies that are helping to address many specific issues of concern to Colorado water-management entities and citizens, such as the sustainability of adequate, good-quality water supplies for various uses, the effects of energy development on water resources, and environmental hazards (drought, wildfires, floods), to name a few.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an independent agency established to coordinate programs aimed at protecting human health and the environment. The EPA’s primary responsibilities include developing and enforcing environmental regulations, sponsoring and conducting research, sponsor partnerships, publish information and providing educational materials about the environment to the public.


National Science Foundation (NSF)
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent agency tasked with keeping the U.S. at the leading edge of discovery in a wide range of scientific areas, from astronomy to geology to zoology. In addition to funding research in the traditional academic areas, the agency also supports “high risk, high pay off” ideas, novel collaborations and numerous projects that may seem like science fiction today, but which the public will take for granted tomorrow.

The Colorado General Assembly is comprised of the House of Representatives and Senate, and the House and Senate Committees on Agriculture and Natural Resources consider most water-related legislation. If state funding is involved, the appropriations committees of the House and Senate also consider water-related bills (CFWE, 2015). There are several Colorado agencies involved in administering and enforcing water legislation. In general, the agencies associated with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are more involved with water quantity management, while the agencies associated with the Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) are more involved with water quality management (CDPHE, 2015).


Colorado Attorney General’s Office
The Colorado Attorney General’s Office (also known as the Colorado Department of Law) is the legal authority regarding matters of law, including whether or not a particular project or agreement is legal under Colorado law.

  • Natural Resources & Environment (NRE) Section: Attorneys in the Natural Resources & Environment Section (NRE) work with client agencies to protect and improve the quality of Colorado’s natural environment and ensure intelligent use and development of the state’s natural resources. The NRE Section provides legal counsel and representation to the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on the regulation of mining, oil and gas, parks and wildlife, state lands and water rights, and to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) on the regulation of air quality, water quality, radiation control and hazardous and solid waste management. The Section also advocates on behalf of the State Natural Resource Trustees and the Colorado Energy Office.

Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE)
The Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) is responsible for implementing state and federal education laws, disbursing state and federal funds, holding schools and districts accountable for performance, licensing all educators, and providing public transparency of performance and financial data.

  • Colorado School of Mines (CSM): The Colorado School of Mines (CSM) is a public research university devoted to engineering and applied science. It has the highest admissions standards of any public university in Colorado and among the highest of any public university in the U.S. The nexus between the earth, the environment and society’s need to generate and distribute energy in an economic and sustainable way is central to Mines’ specialized mission.
  • Colorado Geological Survey (CGS): The Colorado Geological Survey (CGS) is a state data gathering agency within the Colorado School of Mines whose mission is to: help reduce the impact of geologic hazards on the citizens of Colorado; promote responsible economic development of mineral and energy resources; provide geologic insight into water resources; and provide geologic advice and information to a variety of constituencies.

Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA)
The Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) is the state agency responsible for strengthening Colorado’s local communities and building capacity by providing strategic training, research, technical assistance and funding to localities.

  • Colorado Division of Local Government (DLG): The Division of Local Government (DLG) provides technical assistance and information to local governments on available federal and state programs and acts as a liaison with other state agencies concerned with local governments. The Division’s resources include: demography (census and other state data), local government capacity building, budgeting, water and waste water management, and training. They also manage a number of community programs that include Colorado Main Street, Conservation Trust Fund and Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue cards.

Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
The Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is responsible for the management of the water, land, wildlife, minerals/energy/geology and outdoor recreation resources of the State. Its mission is to develop, preserve and enhance Colorado’s natural resources for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future citizens and visitors.

  • Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining & Safety (DRMS): The Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) is responsible for mineral and energy development, policy, regulation and planning. The division is comprised of a diverse team of earth scientists, engineers, geologists and hydrologists working together to ensure that mining operations are planned, executed and the land reclaimed to appropriate environmental standards.
  • Colorado Division of Water Resources (DWR): The Colorado Division of Water Resources (DWR) administers and enforces all surface and groundwater rights, issues water well permits, represents Colorado in interstate water compact proceedings, monitors streamflow and water use, approves construction and repair of dams and performs dam safety inspections, issues licenses for well drillers and assures the safe and proper construction of water wells, and maintains numerous databases of Colorado water information. The State Engineer, division engineers and water commissioners all work for this division.
  • Colorado Board of Examiners (BOE) of Water Well Construction & Pump Installation Contractors: The Board of Examiners (BOE) of Water Well Construction & Pump Installation Contractors has general supervision and authority over the construction and abandonment of wells and the installation of pumping equipment with the ability to adopt and revise related rules. BOE has authority to examine for, deny, approve, revoke, suspend and renew the licenses of applicants and disseminate information to pump installation contractors and well construction contractors in order to protect and preserve the groundwater resources of the state.
  • Colorado Ground Water Commission (CGWC) – Designated Basins: The Colorado Ground Water Commission (CGWC) is a regulatory and adjudicatory body authorized by the General Assembly to manage and control groundwater resources within eight (Kiowa, Bijou, Southern High Plains, Upper Black Squirrel Creek, Lost Creek, Camp Creek, Upper Big Sandy, Upper Crow Creek and Northern High Plains) Designated Groundwater Basins in eastern Colorado.  Designated Basins are areas in the eastern plains with very little surface water where users rely primarily on groundwater as their source of water supply.
  • Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC): The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) is charged with fostering the responsible development of Colorado’s oil and gas natural resources in a manner consistent with the protection of public health, safety and welfare, including the environment and wildlife resources.
  • Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW): Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is responsible for the acquisition, development, management and protection of agency-controlled lands, water resources and water rights in coordination with local, state, federal, non-government agencies and landowners.
  • Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS): The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS), a service and outreach agency of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University, is the lead state agency for providing forest stewardship and management, fuels reduction and wildfire mitigation assistance to private landowners in Colorado. Together with other natural resource organizations, CSFS strives to provide comprehensive support for the care of our natural environment, including improving the resiliency of our forests and helping to protect our water supplies.
  • Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB): The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) is an executive branch agency responsible for state water policy and planning, and it represents each major water basin, Denver and other state agencies in a joint effort to use water wisely and protect water for future generations. The CWCB promotes the protection, conservation and development of Colorado’s water resources, funds water conservation projects, and minimizes the risk of flood damage and the impact of drought.
  • Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC): The Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC) was established by the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act as a state-wide committee to facilitate conversations among Colorado’s river basins and to address statewide water issues. The IBCC consists of 27 members including representatives from each Basin Roundtable, governor appointees, and state legislators.
  • Basin Roundtables: Nine separate basin roundtables also were established by the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act for each of the state’s eight major river basins and the Denver metropolitan area. These basin roundtables facilitate discussions on water issues and encourage locally driven collaborative solutions. The broad-based, collaborative nature of this process is reflected in the roundtable membership – a set of designated members, 10 at-large members, non-voting members, agency liaisons and the CWCB Board member from each basin.
  • State Land Board (SLB): The State Land Board (SLB) manages an endowment of land and mineral rights held in perpetual, intergenerational, public trusts for the financial support of Colorado’s public schools and other public institutions. SLB’s activities generate significant revenue annually for its trust beneficiaries, primarily through agricultural leases for grazing and crop lands, mineral development and interest earned on invested funds. In recent years, the board has expanded its efforts to increase revenue through commercial development activities and leasing lands for recreational activities.

Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE)
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is responsible for providing high-quality, cost-effective public health and environmental protection services that promote healthy people and healthy places. CDPHE’s environmental responsibilities span a full array of activities including air and water quality protection and improvement, hazardous waste and solid waste management, pollution prevention and environmental leadership, and consumer protection.

  • Division of Environmental Health & Sustainability (DEHS): The Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability (DEHS) purpose is to protect and improve Colorado’s environment and human health. The DEHS delivers services that assure safe restaurants, schools and child care facilities; assures the safety of food from production to consumption; maintains acceptable conditions in state correctional and tanning facilities; protects land, water and air quality resources affected by the agricultural animal feeding industry; and protects and improves Colorado’s environment through programs that conserve and reuse resources, prevent pollution and advance the principles of sustainable development.
  • Water Quality Control Division (WQCD): The Water Quality Control Division (WQCD) administers the federal and state clean water and drinking water acts, and implements and enforces regulations adopted by the Water Quality Control Commission and applicable regulations adopted by the Board of Health.
  • Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC): The Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) is an administrative agency responsible for developing specific state water quality policies, in a manner that implements the broader policies set forth by the Legislature in the Colorado Water Quality Control Act. The WQCC implements water quality classifications and standards for surface and groundwater, as well as various regulations aimed at achieving compliance with those classifications and standards.

Colorado Water Courts
The Water Right Determination and Administration Act of 1969 created seven water divisions based upon the drainage patterns of various rivers in Colorado. Water courts preside over all water right decree applications where they review cases of diligence for conditional water rights, changes of water rights, exchanges, augmentation plans and appeals from State or Division Engineer enforcement orders. Each water division is staffed with a division engineer, appointed by the state engineer; a water judge, appointed by the Supreme Court; a water referee, appointed by the water judge; and a water clerk, assigned by the district court. Water judges are district judges appointed by the Supreme Court and have jurisdiction in the determination of water rights, the use and administration of water and all other water matters within the jurisdiction of the water divisions. Although the water courts decree water rights and set priority dates based on the year in which the application was filed, the court does not actually create a water right – the application of the water to a beneficial use creates the water right. There are no jury trials in water courts, because any decision of the water court can be appealed, and that appeal goes directly to the Colorado Supreme Court.


Colorado Water Resources & Power Development Authority (CWRPDA)
The Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority (CWRPDA) is a quasi-governmental organization created by state statute to provide low cost financing for water and wastewater related infrastructure projects to municipalities and special districts. The CWRPDA utilizes several programs to provide funding for local governments’ water, wastewater, and hydropower projects including the State Revolving Fund Programs (Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund and Drinking Water Revolving Fund), Water Revenue Bonds Program, and the Small Hydropower Loan Program.

Local water management agencies include water conservation districts, water conservancy districts, groundwater management districts, water and sanitation districts, towns and cities, and irrigation districts.

A water conservation district is a local policy-making body created to protect and develop the waters Colorado is entitled to in specific regions of the state. Conservation districts cover large geographical areas, and each contains a number of conservancy districts within it. Conservancy districts are local government agencies created to construct, pay for and operate water projects. There are currently four conservation districts and over 50 conservancy districts within Colorado (CFWE, 2015).

Within the Colorado Ground Water Commission’s eight designated groundwater basins established in eastern Colorado there are 13 Ground Water Management Districts (GWMDs), which are local districts authorized to adopt additional rules and regulations to help administer groundwater within their district.

There are over 700 metropolitan districts and more than 100 water and sanitation districts in Colorado. Referred to as Title 32 Special Districts, these entities can be created to supply domestic and other water uses through the development of reservoirs, groundwater wells, water treatment facilities and other works. These entities are commonly used for municipal development to cover the cost of installing infrastructure. Visit your county link for more information Title 32 Special Districts in your area.

Irrigation districts are public, involuntary, semi-municipal fee-collecting entities controlled by local landowners that are formed to raise money for large irrigation and drainage projects that may not be feasible for individual irrigators or private investors. There are currently 16 irrigation districts within Colorado (Jones & Cech, 2009).


Water Conservation Districts

  • Colorado River Water Conservation District (CRWCD): The Colorado River Water Conservation District (CRWCD) is a public water policy agency chartered by the Colorado General Assembly in 1937 to be “the appropriate agency for the conservation, use and development of the water resources of the Colorado River and its principal tributaries in Colorado.” CRWCD is the principal water policy and planning agency for the Colorado River Basin within Colorado, and it provides legal, technical and political representation regarding Colorado River issues for its constituents. The CRWCD covers approximately 29,000 square miles (about 28% of the land area of Colorado) and is comprised of 15 West Slope counties (Moffat, Routt, Grand, Summit, Eagle, Pitkin, Gunnison, Delta, Mesa, Garfield, Rio Blanco, Ouray, and portions of Montrose, Saguache and Hinsdale).
  • Republican River Water Conservation District (RRWCD): The Republican River Water Conservation District (RRWCD) is an independent entity created by the Colorado State Legislature in 2004 to assure local involvement in the State’s efforts to comply with the Republican River Compact between Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. The fifteen members of the Board of Directors are residents of the basin appointed by the Commissioners of local counties, Boards of groundwater management districts and the Colorado Ground Water Commission. The RRWCD encompasses all or parts of seven counties (Phillips and Yuma Counties, as well as portions of Kit Carson, Lincoln, Logan, Sedgwick and Washington).
  • Rio Grande Water Conservation District (RGWCD): The Rio Grande Water Conservation District (RGWCD) was created by the Colorado General Assembly and formed in 1967 to protect, enhance and develop water resources in the Rio Grande River basin. The district encompasses five counties (Alamosa, Rio Grande, Conejos and portions of Saguache and Mineral) within the Rio Grande River basin, including the Closed Basin.
  • Southwestern Water Conservation District (SWCD): The Southwestern Water Conservation District (SWCD) was created on April 16, 1941 by the Colorado General Assembly to protect, conserve, use and develop the water resources of the Southwestern basin for the welfare of the District, and safeguard for Colorado all waters of the basin to which the state is entitled. Following this mandate, the District has assumed a broad strategic role on behalf of its diverse constituents. The district is comprised of nine counties (Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, San Juan, San Miguel and parts of Hinsdale, Mineral and Montrose).

 

Water Conservancy DistrictsCounties
Alamosa – La Jara Water Conservancy DistrictAlamosa, Conejos, Rio Grande
Animas – La Plata Water Conservancy DistrictLa Plata
Basalt Water Conservancy DistrictEagle, Garfield, Pitkin
Bluestone Water Conservancy DistrictGarfield, Mesa
Bostwick Park Water Conservancy DistrictGunnison, Montrose
Center of Colorado Water Conservancy DistrictPark
Central Colorado Water Conservancy District
GroundwaterManagement Sub-District
WellAugmentation Sub-District
Adams, Morgan, Weld
Colbran Water Conservancy DistrictMesa
Conejos Water Conservancy DistrictConejos
Costilla County Conservancy District Costilla
Crawford Water Conservancy DistrictDelta, Gunnison, Montrose
Crooked Arroyo Water Conservancy DistrictOtero
Dolores Water Conservancy District Dolores, Montezuma
Florida Water Conservancy District La Plata
Fruitland Mesa Water Conservancy DistrictDelta, Gunnison, Montrose
Grand Mesa Water Conservancy DistrictDelta
Great Northern Water Conservancy DistrictMoffat, Routt
Huerfano County Water Conservancy DistrictHuerfano
Jackson County Water Conservancy DistrictJackson
Juniper Water Conservancy DistrictMoffat
La Plata Water Conservancy DistrictLa Plata
Logan County Water Conservancy DistrictLogan
Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy DistrictBent, Crowley, Otero, Prowers, Pueblo
Lower South Platte Water Conservancy DistrictLogan, Morgan, Sedgwick, Washington
Mancos Water Conservancy DistrictMontezuma
Michigan River Water Conservancy DistrictJackson
Middle Park Water Conservancy DistrictGrand, Summit
North Fork Water Conservancy DistrictDelta, Gunnison
North La Junta Water Conservancy DistrictOtero
Northern Water Conservancy District
Municipal Subdistrict of Northern Water
Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer, Logan, Morgan, Sedgwick, Washington, Weld
Paradox Valley Water Conservancy DistrictMontrose
Purgatoire River Water Conservancy DistrictLas Animas
Rio Blanco Water Conservancy DistrictRio Blanco
Saint Vrain & Left Hand Water Conservancy DistrictBoulder, Larimer, Weld
San Juan Water Conservancy DistrictArchuleta
San Luis Valley Water Conservancy DistrictAlamosa, Hinsdale, Mineral, Rio Grande, Saguache
San Miguel Water Conservancy DistrictMontrose, San Miguel
Sedgwick-Sand Draws Water Conservancy DistrictSedgwick
Silt Water Conservancy DistrictGarfield
Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy DistrictBent, Chaffee, Crowley, El Paso, Fremont, Kiowa, Otero, Prowers, Pueblo
Tri-County Water Conservancy DistrictDelta, Montrose, Ouray
Trinchera Water Conservancy DistrictCostilla
Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy DistrictChaffee, Custer, Fremont
Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy DistrictGunnison, Hinsdale, Saguache
Upper South Platte Water Conservancy DistrictClear Creek, Douglas, Jefferson, Park, Teller
Upper Yampa Water Conservancy DistrictMoffat, Routt
Ute Water Conservancy DistrictMesa
West Divide Water Conservancy DistrictGarfield, Mesa, Pitkin
Yellow Jacket Water Conservancy DistrictGarfield, Moffat, Rio Blanco

 

Designated Groundwater BasinsGroundwater Management District(s)
Kiowa-BijouNorth Kiowa Bijou Ground Water Management District
Southern High PlainsSouthern High Plains Ground Water Management District
Upper Black Squirrel CreekUpper Black Squirrel Creek Ground Water Management District
Lost CreekLost Creek Ground Water Management District
Camp Creek
Upper Big SandyUpper Big Sandy Ground Water Management District
Upper Crow Creek


Northern High Plains
Plains Ground Water Management District
Sand Hills Ground Water Management District
Arikaree Ground Water Management District
Frenchman Ground Water Management District
Central Yuma Ground Water Management District
W-Y Ground Water Management District
East Cheyenne Ground Water Management District
Marks Butte Ground Water Management District

 

Irrigation Districts
Bijou Irrigation DistrictNorth Sterling Irrigation District
Henrylyn Irrigation DistrictOrchard City Irrigation District
Hillrose Irrigation DistrictOrchard Mesa Irrigation District
Iliff Irrigation DistrictPalisade Irrigation District
Julesburg Irrigation DistrictPine River Irrigation District
Logan Irrigation DistrictPioneer Irrigation District
Maybell Irrigation DistrictRiverside Irrigation District
Mesa County Irrigation DistrictSan Luis Valley Irrigation District

Irrigation companies, also known as ditch and/or reservoir companies, own water rights and develop storage and delivery systems to their members, generally for irrigation purposes. These entities may be private or individually owned, or may be “mutual” incorporated ditches. Water in the incorporated ditches is allocated by shares issued by the company which represent proportional amounts of decreed water rights. In general, irrigation/ditch companies are voluntary, non-profit, fee-collecting entities which hold water rights, and they are the oldest type of water organizations in the state. Information on your local irrigation/ditch companies is often supplied by your city and county websites. Additionally, the Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance (DARCA) maintains a list of its members, as does Water Colorado (primarily located in the South Platte Basin) and the Colorado Water Congress.


American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) – Colorado Section
The Colorado Section of the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) is a non-profit organization and the largest association dedicated to promoting geology as a profession within the state. The Institute is the only international organization that certifies the competence and ethical conduct of geological scientists in all branches of the science with members employed in industry, government and academia. AIPG is an advocate for the profession and communicates regularly to federal and state legislators and agencies on matters pertaining to the geosciences.

American Water Resources Association (AWRA) – Colorado Section
The American Water Resources Association (AWRA) Colorado Section provides networking and educational opportunities for water consultants, administrators and professionals.

Association of State Dam Safety Officials
The Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) is a non-profit organization of state and federal dam safety regulators, dam owners/operators, dam designers, manufacturers/suppliers, academia, contractors and others interested in dam safety. Their mission is to advance and improve the safety of dams by supporting the dam safety community and state dam safety programs.

Water Education Colorado (WEC)
The Water Education Colorado (WEC) provides courses and instructional materials to help citizens become knowledgeable in Colorado water law and related topics.  The popular WEC Citizen’s Guides are available for online viewing.

Colorado Groundwater Association (CGWA)
The Colorado Ground Water Association is a nonprofit organization made up of scientists, engineers, contractors, water lawyers, students and water administrators. CGWA members are active in the wide variety of fields relating to groundwater in Colorado.

Colorado River Water Users Association (CRWUA)
The Colorado River Water Users Association (CRWUA) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization providing a forum for exchanging ideas and perspectives on Colorado River use and management with the intent of developing and advocating common objectives, initiatives and solutions. Founded in 1945, CRWUA has served as an organization where members throughout the Colorado River Basin develop personal relationships to allow frank discussions of the many issues involving the Colorado River.

Colorado Rural Water Association (CRWA)
The Colorado Rural Water Association (CRWA) is a non-profit corporation providing technical assistance and training to Colorado’s public and private water and wastewater systems with populations less than 10,000. About 98% of Colorado’s 2,095 public water systems serve communities that have populations less than 10,000.

Colorado Trout Unlimited (Colorado TU)
Colorado Trout Unlimited (Colorado TU) is the state’s leading non-profit, non-partisan organization providing a voice for Colorado’s rivers. As the financially self-sustaining, grassroots, Colorado-based arm of the national organization Trout Unlimited, Colorado TU is independently governed by a 37-member volunteer board. Colorado TU works to protect, conserve and restore Colorado’s coldwater fisheries and watersheds.

Colorado Watershed Assembly (CWA)
The Colorado Watershed Assembly (CWA) is a statewide coalition of over 80 local organizations working to protect the health of their area’s unique watersheds. Each local group addresses issues specific to their watershed, including water quality, environmental degradation, agricultural diversions, water conservation, and recreation. CWA works to build strong local watershed groups by providing leadership training, assisting member organizations with fundraising, representing the groups’ priorities before state and federal agencies, and keeping member groups informed about important events and opportunities.

Colorado Water Trust (CWT)
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. Today, CWT is the only non-profit organization working statewide to transact water deals for conservation benefits. CWT facilitates the transfer of decreed water rights into the Instream Flow Program by working closely in partnership with the Colorado Water Conservation Board. CWT also works on physical projects that restore streamflows, such as moving a headgate, establishing a low-flow channel, or installing a fish-ladder, as well as provide technical assistance to the land trust community.

Colorado Water Well Contractors Association (CWWCA)
The Colorado Water Well Contractors Association (CWWCA) is a non-profit corporation with objectives to assist, promote, encourage and support the interests and welfare of the Water Well Industry in all its phases generally, and in particular within Colorado.

Colorado WaterWise
Colorado WaterWise is a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting stakeholders, providing resources and serving as the collaborative leader in the efficient use of urban water in Colorado.

Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance (DARCA)
The Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance (DARCA) is a non-profit trade organization dedicated to assisting Colorado’s ditch and reservoir companies, lateral ditch companies, irrigation districts and all other types of private ditch associations.

Irrigation Association (IA)
The Irrigation Association (IA) is the leading membership organization for irrigation equipment and system manufacturers, dealers, distributors, designers, consultants, contractors and end users. IA is dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation technologies, products and services. Together with experts and stakeholders from industry, academia and the public sector, IA works to: define best practices for effective water management; establish benchmarks and guidelines for irrigation products and applications; promote efficient irrigation technology and practices; and advocate sound policies to ensure the availability, quality and conservation of water supplies.

National Groundwater Association (NGWA)
The National Groundwater Association (NGWA) is the hallmark organization for anyone affiliated with the groundwater industry. NGWA is comprised of more than 12,000 U.S. and international groundwater professionals — contractors, scientists and engineers, equipment manufacturers, and suppliers.

National Watershed Coalition (NWC)
The National Watershed Coalition (NWC) is a non-profit made up of national, regional, state and local organizations, associations and individuals that advocate dealing with natural resource problems and issues using watersheds as the planning and implementation unit. The NWC: advocates using total resource management principles in planning; Represents the concerns and needs of watershed project sponsors at the national level; offers assistance on watershed planning when requested, sponsors biennial national watershed conferences, other specialty resource conferences, publishes a monthly electronic newsletter, Watershed e-News and conference proceedings; and provides resource testimony before Congress on watershed programs and policy, and believes proper care of our nation’s natural resources a top national priority.

Rocky Mountain Section of the American Water Works Association (RMSAWWA)
The Rocky Mountain Section of the American Water Works Association (RMSAWWA) is a non-profit, scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water. Their mission is to provide solutions for the Rocky Mountain Region (Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming) to effectively manage water, the world’s most important resource. As a local section of the American Water Works Association, they strive to connect our local membership with the opportunities and resources of AWWA.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) – Colorado
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Colorado is a non-profit conservation and management organization concerned with protecting and restoring the state’s lands, forests and waters for future generations. Since 1965, TNC in Colorado has protected more than 800,000 acres and 1,000 river miles across the state. Included in those acres are a number of preserves, six of which are open to the public.

Western Colorado Congress (WCC)
Western Colorado Congress (WCC) is a grassroots, democratic organization dedicated to challenging injustice by organizing people to increase their power over decisions that affect their lives. WCC’s community groups and members work together to create healthy, sustainable communities, social and economic justice, environmental stewardship and a truly democratic society.

Western Resource Advocates (WRA)
Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is a regional conservation organization dedicated to protecting the West’s land, air and water. WRA works in six states (AZ, CO, NM, NV, UT, WY) to promote a clean energy future, defend public lands and people from the impacts of energy development, and ensure water supplies for communities while protecting rivers and lakes.

Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment [CDPHE]. (2015). State water agencies.

Colorado Division of Water Resources [DWR]. (n.d.). State Agency Water Links.

Colorado Water Institute [CWI]. (n.d.). Links. Colorado State University.

Jones, P. A., & Cech, T. (2009). Colorado Water Law for Non-Lawyers. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.

Water Education Colorado [WEC]. (n.d.). Water Law Managers and Regulators.

—–. (2015). Citizen’s Guide to Colorado Water Law (4th ed.). Denver, CO.