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Alt. Water Transfers

Cover HW Fall 2017

Water sharing and banking, coined "alternative transfer methods" or ATMs, could provide flexibility for stretched water supplies —but not without marked challenges. Read the Fall 2017 issue of Headwaters magazine and explore options to:

  • keep water in farming
  • help municipalities plan ahead
  • share between ag and environmental uses
  • bank water on the Colorado River

Browse articles and find a flipbook of the magazine here.

Connecting the Drops

connectingdropslogo4.1Bringing you the reporting you crave over the radio airways with extras and archives on our website. Visit the audio archives or listen to the latest story on the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the Colorado river that could become the state's second wild and scenic protect river—Deep Creek:

Deep Creek 5 web

Water Education Colorado

Cooperation vs. Competition

Headwaters Cover

This issue of Headwaters magazine chronicles how Colorado has entered into the most comprehensive and public dialogue ever attempted about the state's water future. Citizen roundtables are reaching across hydrologic divides to address questions which have often resulted in division rather than agreement.

Read the articles in text format below, or flip through the magazine online.



Headwaters Beyond the Printed Page

Water Education Colorado goes beyond printed material to help our readers meet and understand the views of IBCC and Basin Roundtable members.

VOICES OF THE IBCC—staff member Kristin Maharg visited with IBCC members in March 2009 to discuss their thoughts on a vision for Colorado's water future, new water supply strategies and the Colorado River compact. Listen to audio selections from these interviews here.

FACES OF THE IBCCAt the March 2009 Interbasin Compact Committee meeting, photographer Kevin Moloney asked participants to create a self-portrait using a remote camera release. We've posted a selection of these images, along with quotes from the magazine.

Colorado's Water for the 21st Century Act: Finally doing the right thing?

By George Sibley

Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all other possibilities.’

- Winston Churchill

Unbelievably, the 2005 Water for the 21st Century Act sailed through Colorado's General Assembly on the first try. A deeper look at the history of Colorado water in the 20th century makes the fast passage of the Act in the early 21st century look at least as inevitable as unbelievable. On one hand, the state passed the millennial mark confronting a substantial gap between current water supplies and future needs; and on the other, a number of traditional efforts to address that gap had been stalled or shut down. Colorado had hit a stalemate, and, in Winston Churchill's words, other possibilities had been exhausted.

Read more: Colorado's Water for the 21st Century Act: Finally doing the right thing?

Interbasin Compact Process 101: The ins and outs of the state's latest approach to water planning

Six years ago the state of Colorado undertook its first-ever statewide assessment of local water supplies and demands through the Statewide Water Supply Initiative, commonly known as SWSI. In 2005, the Colorado Legislature voted to further that effort, passing the Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act in House Bill 1177. The legislation established the Interbasin Compact Process, which aims to develop a collective understanding of the state's overall water supply needs and to devise solutions for meeting those needs in the future.

Read more: Interbasin Compact Process 101: The ins and outs of the state's latest approach to water planning

Yampa/White/Green Basin Roundtable

By Jayla Poppleton

The Yampa, White and Green rivers in northwestern Colorado are part of the Upper Colorado River system. The Yampa and White's headwaters are in Colorado, while the Green makes a brief detour south from Wyoming, through Dinosaur National Monument where it is joined by the Yampa, then flows west into Utah.

Read more: Yampa/White/Green Basin Roundtable

Southwest Basin Roundtable

By Jayla Poppleton


In Colorado's southwest, beyond the rugged San Juans, the mountains give way to canyons and arroyos, and elevations drop low enough that the Ute Mountain Ute tribe can grow corn south of Cortez, or farmers can raise pinto beans and sunflowers in Dove Creek. From a 10,000 square-mile area comprised of three major river basins -- the San Juan, Dolores and San Miguel -- the Southwest Basin Roundtable brings together a diverse group.

Read more: Southwest Basin Roundtable

South Platte Basin Roundtable

By Eryn Gable

Emerging from the mountains southwest of Denver, the South Platte River flows through the city and continues northeast into the plains before exiting into Nebraska just east of Julesberg. The South Platte Basin, which covers an area of about 22,000 square miles in northeastern Colorado, is a diverse region including mountain towns near the headwaters, large cities like Boulder and Fort Collins along the Front Range, and agricultural communities in the Eastern Plains including the Republican River Basin.

Read more: South Platte Basin Roundtable

Rio Grande Basin

by Laurie J. Schmidt

Take a valley surrounded by extensive wilderness and situated between two imposing mountain ranges. Add a small population of about 50,000 people and an economy based almost entirely on agriculture. Then throw in an atypical aquifer system and a major river whose water is partially obligated to users hundreds of miles away. This is the Rio Grande Basin, endowed both with pastoral beauty and a unique set of water issues.

Read more: Rio Grande Basin

North Platte Basin Roundtable

By Jayla Poppleton

From the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness, the North Platte River flows down the Medicine Bow Mountains, through the meadows of North Park and to the Wyoming border, where it exits Colorado through Northgate Canyon. The elevation in the North Park valley never drops below 8,000 feet. At that altitude, the growing season is a mere 60 days, and the agricultural sector consists of growing high-meadow hay and cattle ranching. The largest town in the basin is Walden, with a population of just over 700 people.

Read more: North Platte Basin Roundtable

Metro Roundtable

By Jayla Poppleton

The Metro Roundtable was carved from the South Platte Basin because of its unique demographic and water uses. Anchored by the Mile High City, the metro area includes Golden to the west, Parker to the south, Aurora to the east and Thornton to the north, as well as many others in-between.

Read more: Metro Roundtable

Gunnison Basin Roundtable

By Jayla Poppleton


The Gunnison River is the fifth largest tributary to the Colorado River. It joins the Colorado at Grand Junction, nearly matching the mainstem in volume. During its 180-mile descent, it drops most sharply through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, a gorge so narrow that sunlight barely kisses its shadowy walls.

Read more: Gunnison Basin Roundtable

Colorado Basin Roundtable

By Jayla Poppleton


The mainstem of the Colorado River flows from its headwaters in Summit and Grand Counties down through the Grand Valley and across the Utah state line. The Colorado Basin Roundtable's concerns include protecting water in the 9,830 square-mile basin for in-basin supplies, determining how much water will be necessary to preserve environmental and recreational values, and providing for a growing population and development in the energy sector while sustaining agriculture as a viable industry.

Read more: Colorado Basin Roundtable

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