Colorado Water Trust’s Mission is to Restore Water to Colorado’s Rivers.

Colorado Water Trust’s vision is that every Colorado river and stream has water that supports our ecosystems, communities, and local economies.

Our Values


We are experts in water transactions for the environment. We work within the existing Colorado water system and pay fair-market value for water when desired by the water right owner.


Our interest lies in rivers and communities, not politics.


We facilitate solutions with our project partners and the communities where we work, both rural and urban. We strive for inclusivity in our projects and we consider their impacts on society.


We are the leading Colorado nonprofit focusing on water transactions for environmental benefit, pioneering new methods of streamflow restoration.


Our projects result in more water in rivers when and where it’s needed. We do our best to ensure multi-purpose outcomes that benefit both water users and rivers.

Agricultural Partner

We respect Colorado’s agricultural heritage and work hard to ensure our projects are mutually-beneficial for agriculture and the environment.

Writing a New Chapter Together

little snake river
Cochetopa Creek near Gunnison in 2002
Cochetopa Creek near Gunnison in 2002

Colorado Water Trust was founded in 2001 when Colorado was heading into the worst drought the region had ever seen and rivers were deeply threatened.

Our founders saw that the solution for restoring water to rivers already existed within Colorado’s current water law system – someone just needed to prove that it could work. They envisioned a nonprofit entity that would provide market-based solutions to secure water for environmental purposes. By reversing traditional water laws, they could take the tools and systems that were created to withdraw water from rivers and instead use them to do the opposite – restore water to rivers.

In 2005, Colorado Water Trust implemented our first project, a permanent transfer of water from ranch irrigation to instream flow in the Blue River. Since then, we’ve gone on to pioneer dozens of market-based tools to restore water to Colorado’s rivers, working within the system to support flowing rivers for people and the environment.