Instream Flow and Natural Lake Level Appropriations

The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) appropriates water rights to preserve the natural environment of streams and lakes in the state. After receiving detailed recommendations for instream flow (ISF) water rights from state and federal agencies, conservation groups and members of the public, the CWCB reviews and processes the recommendations in accordance with the Board’s ISF Rules. The CWCB performs detailed hydrological analyses to ensure that all recommendations meet the statutory requirements for an ISF appropriation. The CWCB notifies and involves the public throughout the ISF appropriation process.

Confluence of the Dolores and San Miguel Rivers

Recommendation Process

Each January, the CWCB holds a workshop to request recommendations for streams and lakes to be protected. The workshop is open to the public and notice is provided through this Website and the ISF Subscription Mailing List. Any person or entity may submit recommendations. All recommendations are processed in accordance with the ISF Rules and statutes.

Proposed and Contested Appropriations

Technical information for current recommendations is presented to the Board in January each year and provides the basis for the CWCB’s intent to appropriate for each stream. When an ISF appropriation is uncontested, the CWCB files an application in Water Court to adjudicate the ISF water right. If an ISF appropriation is contested, the CWCB follows the procedures in ISF Rule 5, which include holding a hearing on the ISF appropriation prior to taking final action on it. For more information about any recommendation, please contact Rob Viehl.

Outreach Process and How to get Involved

Stakeholder input is an important part of the CWCB staff’s analysis of instream flow (ISF) recommendations. These groups include: state and federal agencies, local government, non-governmental organizations, conservation groups, land and water rights owners, and the general public. There are several ways to stay up to date with what the instream flow team is up to:

  1. January ISF Workshop - each year, the ISF staff and recommending agencies hold a workshop to present the new recommendations that will be considered for appropriation in the upcoming years. The timing and location of this workshop will be posted on our website and emailed out through the ISF Subscription Mailing List.
  2. ISF Subscription Mailing List - several notices are sent out throughout the year as the instream flow recommendations move through the process. Anyone can sign up to be on this mailing list! This is the best way to stay up to date with the program.
  3. County Commissioner Meetings - CWCB Staff will meet with the County Commissioners of each county in which a recommended reach is located before Staff brings an ISF recommendation to the Board for board approval.
  4. ISF recommendations are available for review on the CWCB’s webpage. Information is regularly updated as it becomes available throughout the process. There is also a feature that allows users to view the ISF recommendation locations in Google Earth.

Additionally, staff meets with interested local groups, land and water rights owners, and others interested in learning more about a specific recommendation or, more generally, the Instream Flow Program. If you are interested in providing comments regarding this year’s recommendations, please fill out this survey.


Point of Contact

Rob Viehl