Welcome to SWCD

The Southwestern Water Conservation District (SWCD) was created by the State of Colorado legislation through House Bill #795 which was approved by the General Assembly on April 16, 1941.  The charter of the District is 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)

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.

Colorado’s 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. This Colorado Water Plan Fact Sheet developed by the CWCB provides background about the plan. For further information about how you can get involved, please visit the Colorado Water Plan website.

CWCB Timeline

CWCB Timeline

Southwest Colorado has a somewhat unique position, 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.

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.

2014 Legislative Session

The Second Regular Session of the Sixty-ninth General Assembly convened on January 8, 2014. The Southwestern Water Conservation District provides a regular summary of bills that will be introduced by the Interim Water Resources Review Committee:

SWCD Legislative Update #11; Bill Status 04-07-14

SWCD Legislative Update #10

SWCD Legislative Update #9

SWCD Legislative Update #8

SWCD Legislative Update #7

SWCD Legislative Update #6

SWCD Legislative Update #5

SWCD Legislative Update #4

SWCD Legislative Update #3

SWCD Legislative Update #2

SWCD Legislative Update #1

These summaries are distributed as a service to those interested in water related legislation during the 2014 session.  If you would like to sign up fo regular e-mail updates with the bill summaries, please contact lauras@southwesternwater.org. We hope that you find the updates beneficial and informative.

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.

Initiative 73, “The State’s Duties Under the Public Trust Doctrine to Secure the Rights of the People to Protect Natural Resources,” has been filed proposing the application of a public trust doctrine in Colorado. 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 if this ballot measure were to be successful.

Go to the Colorado Water Congress website at www.cowaterstewardship.com for more information on public trust initiatives.

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 a 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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