Welcome to SWCD
The Southwestern Water Conservation District (SWCD) was created by the State of Colorado to protect, conserve, use and develop the water resources of the Southwestern basin for the welfare of the District, and to safeguard for Colorado all waters of the basin to which the state is entitled. It is one of four Conservation Districts in the state. Read More About Us Here!
July 19th: Learn More About Colorado’s Water Plan!
The Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance will hold a workshop on Colorado’s Water Plan at the Florida Grange on Saturday, July 19. For more information, please click here to download the flyer.
What is the Colorado Water Plan? In May 2013, Governor Hickenlooper issued an Executive Order directing the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) to develop Colorado’s Water Plan. Based on eight years of dialogue among local water leaders around the state (members of the Basin Roundtables), the plan will be designed to address statewide concerns about growing demands for our water supply, while still upholding Colorado values. The first draft of the plan will be presented to the Governor in December 2014.
For recent activity around the plan, download the June 2014 Water Plan Update.
For background about the plan, download this Colorado Water Plan Fact Sheet.
For further information about how you can get involved, please visit the Colorado Water Plan website.
Southwestern Colorado and the Water Plan
Southwest Colorado has a somewhat unique water situation, with the presence of two sovereign nations (the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe) and Colorado River interstate compact deliveries to New Mexico.
In cooperation with the Southwest Basins Roundtable, SWCD has produced a document of guiding principles to use in development of the state water plan: Southwest Colorado Statement of Importance. See also a factsheet on just the Southwest Colorado portion of the plan.
Click here to listen to a recent interview with Southwest Basins Roundtable Chairperson Mike Preston to get a local perspective on the state water plan.
SWCD Executive Director Bruce Whitehead published an op-ed in the Durango Herald inviting members of the community to participate actively in the local Roundtables and the statewide planning process because, as he puts it, “water is not only a life-giving resource, it is a way of life” in Colorado.
Public Trust Initiatives
What is the Public Trust Doctrine? Simply put, the public trust doctrine is the principle that certain resources are preserved for public use, and that the government is required to preserve them for the public’s reasonable use. Sounds good on the surface, but what would the actual consequences be if the measures were passed? As a scarce natural resource, Colorado’s water relies on a system of allocation, called prior appropriation, which has successfully allocated the State’s water for nearly 150 years. Public Trust initiatives would overturn this system, and result in dramatic reallocation of public and private, human and financial resources.
All water interests in Colorado should become educated about the adverse impacts to our current water rights system and to the Doctrine of Prior Appropriation should public trust ballot initiatives succeed.
Go to the Colorado Water Congress website at www.cowaterstewardship.com for more information on public trust initiatives.
Interested in Small Scale Hydropower?
If you are interested in developing small hydro in southwestern Colorado, particularly ditch drops and pressurized irrigation (including center pivots) hydro projects, please visit the Colorado Small Hydropower Association website. At the workshop held in Durango on May 19, it was clear there are many agricultural hydropower opportunities in southwestern Colorado, thanks in part to new federal and state incentives. In 2013, federal small hydro permitting reform legislation became law, dramatically simplifying federal approval for small hydro.
View Presentations from the 2014 Weather Modification Workshop
If you missed the 2014 Weather Modification Workshop on May 15, you can view the presentations given by regional and local experts here.
19th Annual Children’s Water Festival the Biggest Yet!
More than 900 fifth grader attended this year’s Children’s Water Festival, an educational day orgainzed by the Water Information Program and sponsored by SWCD. The event–made possible by more than 100 volunteers–was held at Ft. Lewis College on May 7. Click here to see photos!
Miss out on the 32nd Annual Water Seminar?
Not to worry. Our speakers have generously agreed to share their slides. Click here to view the presentations given this year.
2014 Legislative Session
The Second Regular Session of the Sixty-ninth General Assembly ended on May 7. To review SWCD’s 2014 summaries on water-related legislation, click here.
SWCD Board Meetings
All meetings are open to the public. Regular Board of Director Meetings are in February, April, June, August, October, and December. In addition to regular board meetings, the Board meets via teleconference every other week during the Colorado Legislative Year (mid January – mid May) to review water-related legislation.
Southwestern Water Conservation District actively supports water-related projects and programs throughout the District’s nine counties. Ongoing support is given to organizations whose work greatly impacts our water resources. For information on our programs and funding opportunities, please click here.
Looking for information on local and state water resources? Visit our Resource section for useful links.