Instream Flow Water Acquisitions

The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) can acquire water, water rights, or interests in water to preserve or improve the natural environment.The Water Acquisition Program is a voluntary program that allows water rights' owners to donate, sell, lease or loan existing decreed water rights to the CWCB on a permanent or temporary basis. The CWCB can acquire water by purchase, bequest, donation, lease, exchange or any other contractual agreement. The CWCB cannot acquire water rights by eminent domain or force an individual to convey a water right to the CWCB for instream flow purposes.

Point of Contact

Kaylea White

Pete Conovitz

Benefits of water acquisitions
  1. Can extend the amount of time water is legally available to existing junior ISF rights
  2. CWCB and partners can develop creative, flexible approaches to stream flow protection
  3. Economic benefit to water right owners
  4. Landowners can maintain flows through property
  5. Leases provide options for irrigators during dry years
  6. Healthier streams and fish populations
Interested in the program?

The CWCB currently receives several offers of water rights for ISF use via donation, purchase, lease or loan each year. Water acquisition proposals can be considered at any time during the year. Each water acquisition transaction is unique, and the particular terms and conditions are included in a separate agreement that is developed by the proponent and CWCB staff. The CWCB has 120 days to respond to the proposal. Individuals interested in learning more about the water acquisition process are encouraged to contact the CWCB staff. 

Request for Water Process

CWCB has partnered with the Colorado Water Trust to create a streamlined approach to water transaction. The voluntary process is designed to protect and enhance rivers while providing opportunities for water rights owners to explore new flexible uses for their water. To learn more... click here!


Example Projects

  • The Nature Conservancy has made several water right donations to the CWCB over the years including a 300 cubic feet per second senior water right to protect flows through 29 miles of the Gunnison River (includes the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument).
  • The City of Boulder donated valuable senior water rights to the CWCB to maintain instream flows in Boulder Creek through the city.
  • The Colorado Water Trust, a private non-profit conservation group, purchased and conveyed a water right to the CWCB to preserve and improve the natural environment of Boulder Creek and the Blue River, a Gold Medal Fishery in Summit County.