Colorado Water Trust’s newest strategic plan was adopted in the dry summer of 2022, at the threshold of a new era in Colorado water administration.

With numerous legal and administrative tools to keep more water in our rivers and streams without causing harm to consumptive users, Colorado Water Trust has the ability to impact the future of our natural world at a much greater scale than we have in the past. And our new strategic plan builds upon our past 21 years of flow restoration work to do just that.

This is Colorado Water Trust’s seventh and most ambitious strategic plan. It will guide us through 2027 and build upon our past work to go even further. Taking into account the impacts of climate change, continued population growth, and with feedback from our partners and other players in our space gathered through a robust process, we set out the following programmatic goals for the next five years.

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Goal #1: Develop And Implement Two New Core Program Areas:

In addition to our existing programs, these two new programs will characterize our work over the next five years:

  • Community-based Projects: The Water Trust will identify, develop, and implement at least one significant multi-purpose project each in an urban and rural community. These projects will consider the needs of people that are often forgotten in the design of environmental projects.
  • Reservoir Release Program: By 2024, we will implement a new program centered around existing reservoirs and their potential to provide benefits to downstream rivers and multiple beneficial uses through coordinated efforts. We will aim to find matches between available water or capacity, stream need, and downstream use. We will use various legal mechanisms to make releases, with a pool of resources available for compensation as we move forward.

Goal #2: Increase Project Impact Goals

We aim to double the average annual flow volumes that we return to Colorado’s streams and rivers compared with our first twenty-one years. We will also evaluate the transformative effect of our existing and new projects. We will develop metrics to measure how our present and future projects might strengthen and make more resilient the diverse human communities that depend and live in close proximity to Colorado’s streams and rivers. This data will inform how we assess and deploy our resources equitably for maximum community impact.

Goal #3: Set Guardrails For Policy Involvement

The Water Trust will engage in public policy discussions and advocacy to expand its leverage and influence in pursuing the goal of streamflow restoration within the state. We will support the enactment of legislation or adoption of policies that will further its work, and will advocate against undesirable legislation or policies. Consistent with its non-partisan and non-controversial history, the Water Trust’s advocacy efforts will include ensuring that the interests of multiple water-related sectors are considered and balanced.

These are the programmatic elements of our new strategic plan, and this work doesn’t occur on its own. As we expand our innovative solutions to Colorado’s water challenges, we have additional goals that focus on improving our brand and communications, increasing our resources, growing our fundraising support, and ensuring we have the right number of talented and fulfilled staff.

The Water Trust will also focus on creating ways for the organization to do its part in broadening the racial and ethnic diversity of the water community, and forging connections to organizations active in diverse racial communities in Colorado. 

Welcome to a new Water Trust: re-engaged with the communities we work in and more impactful across the board. We are the pre-eminent environmental water transactions expert in Colorado, committed to a future where water is used efficiently and shared with low transactional cost or friction, allowing rivers and streams to flow more strongly. It is a future that climate change has forced our state to embrace, and we will lead the way.