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!

Request for Qualifications, General Counsel

The Board of Directors of the Southwestern Water Conservation District is inviting qualified individuals and law firms to provide legal services and representation to the District. Click here to review the full Request for Qualifications. If you would like a list of current and ongoing litigation, please click here.

Please note, the deadline for submissions is Monday, November 30. The District Office will be closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday, November 26 and Friday, November 27.

SWCD Statement: Gold King Mine Cleanup Efforts

Bruce Whitehead, Executive Director of the Southwestern Water Conservation District, released the following statement regarding the Gold King Mine accident:

“On behalf of the board of directors of the Southwestern Water Conservation District, I would like to express our sincere concern for the Animas River ecosystem and all the water users affected by the Gold King Mine discharge.

The District, which encompasses the drainages from Pagosa Springs to Norwood, recognizes that metal loading from abandoned and inactive mines has been one of the most significant regional water quality issues for decades. For more than 10 years, the District has provided substantial financial support to the Animas River Stakeholder Group to assist their efforts in mine remediation, including direct funding of water quality monitoring below Silverton.

The Animas River Stakeholders Group, made up of volunteer community leaders, environmental organizations, private, and public partners, has worked transparently and collaboratively for 20 years to remediate old mine sites. Their success can be seen on Mineral Creek, where the effective use of limited resources and local expertise has resulted in a notable reduction in heavy metals loading.

There’s no question this group has developed the site-specific knowledge, working relationships, and expertise to take on the water quality challenge over the long term. As communities along the Animas River and the EPA work to address the consequences of this spill, we encourage them to take advantage of the local leadership of the Animas River Stakeholders Group.”

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 is designed to address statewide concerns about growing demands for our water supply, while still upholding Colorado values. For background about the plan, download this Fact Sheet. The second draft of the Colorado Water Plan is now available online.

Colorado’s Water Plan: the Southwest Perspective

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 an interview with Southwest Basins Roundtable Chair Mike Preston to get a local perspective on the state water plan. In 2014, 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.

20th Annual Children’s Water Festival A Success!

More than 700 fifth graders attended this year’s Children’s Water Festival, an educational day sponsored by SWCD. The event–made possible by more than 70 volunteers–was held at Ft. Lewis College on May 6. Click here to see photos!

Did you miss the 2015 Annual Water Seminar?

Not to worry. Click here to see the films shown, download speaker presentations, and read news coverage of the event.

2016 Legislative Session

The 2016 Legislative Session will convene on Wednesday, January 13. Look for updates provided by SWCD on water-related legislation here. If you would like to be added to our e-mail list, please write to lauras@swwcd.org. To review past updates, 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. For the meeting schedule, click here.


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.

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