Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about Colorado Water Trust’s myRiver Balance

myRiver Balance is a way for people to give back to their rivers by helping Colorado Water Trust purchase or lease water for environmental flows. It is not a water offset program but rather a mechanism for Front Range residents (and others) to support rivers and streams on the Western Slope based on their annual water use.

Participants make a contribution through myRiver Balance based on the amount of water they use each year. Those contributions allow Colorado Water Trust to purchase or lease approximately the same amount of water for environmental flows in that same year whenever possible. For example, if your household uses 160,000 gallons of water each year, you would contribute $120. Colorado Water Trust will use your funds toward the purchase or lease approximately 160,000 gallons of water to return to a river in that same year, when possible.

Yes! Colorado Water Trust and myRiver Balance strongly supports water conservation as an essential part of protecting our rivers and streams. We encourage you to look for ways to reduce your water use in addition to balancing the water you do use. There are many small steps that you can take to conserve water that will make a big difference. Check out Water Education Colorado’s 22 Ways to Care for Colorado Water for ideas.

The typical Colorado single-family household uses approximately .4-.5 acre-feet or 130,340-162,925 gallons of water per year for cooking, cleaning, and watering the lawn. Every household varies depending on the number of people, outdoor water use, and other variables. Check your water bill for your exact water use at home.

We also encourage you to look into ways to reduce your water use at home. There are many small steps that you can take to conserve water that will make a big difference. Check out Water Education Colorado’s 22 Ways to Care for Colorado Water for ideas.

With increased conservation measures, we expect (and hope) that household water use will decline over time, and we will then adjust myRiver Balance guidelines accordingly.

Here are suggested donation amounts for different household sizes:

  • Individual – $45 for 60,000 gallons/year
  • Couple – $70 for 90,000 gallons/year
  • Family of 3 – $95 for 125,000 gallons/year
  • Family of 4 – $120 for 160,000 gallons/year
  • Family of 5 – $150 for 195,000 gallons/year

Use the suggested amounts above or check your water bill and use our calculator to determine your estimated annual water use.

Your contribution will go directly into a fund at Colorado Water Trust for the purchase or lease of water for environmental flows. 25% of that fund will cover project implementation and administration by Colorado Water Trust staff to facilitate the return of the water to a river or rivers in need. The remaining 75% is available for acquiring water.

myRiver Balance operates on the water year calendar. This means that contributions received by September 30th of a particular year will go toward the purchase of water in that same year. Contributions received after October 1 will go toward the purchase of water in the following year.

The cost of water varies widely throughout the state depending on market conditions, but the average cost of water for our flow restoration projects, which are primarily on the Western Slope, is approximately $180/acre-foot (325,851 gallons). It is important to our model that we compensate water users fairly when we implement a project, and therefore we pay market rate. Beyond that, we make every effort to get the best price for water to make your dollars go further. Sometimes the cost of water for environmental purposes can be less than the price for other uses.

While every effort will be made to spend all myRiver Balance contributions on acquiring water each year, annual hydrological conditions will determine how much water is needed for which projects. If all funds contributed exceed the need for water in any given year, contributions will be used for the operations of Colorado Water Trust for that year.

Yes! It’s up to you how much you want to contribute through myRiver Balance. The idea is to give back the amount of water you’ve used in one year, but keep in mind that the more money you contribute, the more water we can purchase or lease to support river flows!

Not at this time. Which rivers need help in a particular year depends a lot on the hydrology of that year and so we need to remain flexible for the benefit of rivers most in need. We will send you notification at the end of the water year (mid-fall, typically) of which river your contribution helped that year. We can send that notification to someone else if you made the contribution as a gift or remembrance.

Yes, contributions to Colorado Water Trust through myRiver Balance are 100% tax-deductible by law.

Yes! You can help a family member, friend, or neighbor balance their water use by contributing through myRiver Balance in their honor or memory. Just click “I would like to balance a family member or friend’s water use” on the donation form and fill in the details for the gift recipient. We will mail them a special greeting card relaying any message you’d like to leave for them and letting them know that you have helped balance their water use for the year.