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Throughout time, Coloradans have struggled to harvest enough water to meet our needs. Colorado’s fluid past has shaped the way we use and manage water.

The state's dry climate has challenged residents across the centuries. People face a common dilemma: how can we find and store enough water? How do we ensure that this water is divided and used fairly? How do we maintain the quality of the water and the natural environment?

For years, Coloradans have engineered solutions to these problems, enacting laws to ensure fair distribution of water. These laws undergo revision as Colorado’s needs and values change. Colorado’s water history, and its water future, will require a careful balance of its agricultural, municipal, industrial, recreational, and environmental needs.

Click the fluent water facts below to read more about the fascinating events that have shaped Colorado’s water history. Stories were selected from the Citizen’s Guide to Colorado’s Water Heritage and the Citizen’s Guide to Colorado’s Environmental Era.

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CFWE Water History Resources

Guide to Colorado's Water Heritage Explore how water shaped Colorado history, culture and identity. Read the water heritage guide.

water heritage guide

Guide to Colorado's Environmental Era Continue the journey through time to explore more recent years and see how the environmental movement has shaped Colorado's culture, communities and landscapes. Read, download, or purchase the environmental era guide.