About the Water Plan

Colorado Water Values

  productive economy
  vibrant and sustainable cities
  viable and productive agriculture
  strong and healthy environment
  robust recreation and tourism industries

Colorado’s Water Plan sets forth strategies to meet our future needs through balanced policies and actions that all Coloradans and their elected officials can support. The plan attests to our citizens’ ability to organize around shared goals to preserve our water values of a productive economy, vibrant and sustainable cities, productive agriculture, a strong environment, and a robust recreation industry.

About the Plan

The Colorado Water Plan is our state’s framework for solutions to our water challenges. It guides future decision-making to address water challenges with a collaborative, balanced, and solutions-oriented approach.

We have learned through the work of the Technical Update (formerly, Statewide Water Supply Initiative) and the long histories of the Interbasin Compact Committee and Basin Roundtables that our current statewide water trajectory is neither desirable nor sustainable. Building on a decade of grass-roots civic engagement, the Water Plan aims to showcase solutions with broad support that strategically address Colorado's most difficult water challenges.

Colorado’s water supplies are highly variable, and our demands are growing. Throughout Colorado’s history, and increasingly in recent decades, we have experienced severe drought conditions, extreme flooding events, population booms, and economic recessions. These extremes often reflect larger shifts that highlight the importance of resilience in our water supplies and thoughtful, collaborative planning—the heart of the Colorado Water Plan.

The goals within Colorado’s Water Plan are to meet the water supply and demand gaps; defend Colorado’s compact entitlements; improve regulatory processes; and explore financial incentives—all while honoring Colorado’s water values and ensuring that the state’s most valuable resource is protected and available for generations to come. The state’s core water values shape every measurable objective, goal, and action in the plan.

Measurable Objectives:

Supply-Demand Gap

Reduce the projected 2050 municipal and industrial gap from as much as 560,000 acre-feet to zero acre-feet by 2030.


Achieve 400,000 acre-feet of municipal and industrial water conservation by 2050.

Land Use

By 2025, 75 percent of Coloradans will live in communities that have incorporated water-saving actions into land-use planning.


Agricultural productivity will keep pace with growing state, national, and global needs, even if some acres go out of production.


Attain 400,000 acre-feet of water storage in order to manage and share conserved water and the yield of Identified Projects and Processes (IPPs) by 2050. This objective equates to an 80 percent success rate for these planned projects.

Watershed Health, Environment, and Recreation

Cover 80 percent of the locally prioritized lists of rivers with stream management plans, and 80 percent of critical watersheds with watershed protection plans, all by 2030.


The State will investigate options to raise an additional $100 million in revenue annually ($3 billion by 2050) starting in 2020.

Education, Outreach, and Innovation

Engage Coloradans statewide on at least five key water challenges (identified by CWCB) that should be addressed by 2030.


In May of 2013, Governor John Hickenlooper issued Executive Order D 2013-005 directing the CWCB to commence work on Colorado’s Water Plan. On November 19, 2015, through the collaborative effort and vision of hundreds of stakeholders, dozens of state agencies, nine Basin Roundtables, thousands of meetings, and more than 30,000 comments from interested persons across the state, the CWCB delivered the 567-page Colorado Water Plan to its Board of Directors and the Colorado Governor’s Office.

Developing Colorado’s Water Plan was a colossal exercise in bringing the water community and public at large together to address our state’s diverse challenges in managing one of humankind’s most basic needs. The state received, reviewed, and responded to more than 30,000 comments for consideration in the final plan. Comments came in from every basin in Colorado and were submitted by individuals, organizations, students, state, and federal agencies across all interest groups. The Board reviewed nearly 500 documents, in addition to all of the emails and webforms. Staff members engaged digitally, in hard copy, and face-to-face with more than 150 organizations, agencies, and partners statewide.

The current version of Colorado's Water Plan lays out measurable objectives for 2020, 2025, 2030, and 2050. Updating the Plan in the future will ensure that water remains a focus of Colorado’s ongoing policy development and that state policies continue to be responsive to ongoing technical and stakeholder work.

The second version of the Water Plan is set to be released in 2022. In June 2020, the CWCB held four Public Listening Sessions, broken down by sector, to provide an overview of the process for updating the Water Plan. Staff compiled a list of Public Comments and CWCB Staff Responses addressed during the Listening Sessions.