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What Is A Stream Management Plan?

The Colorado Water Plan calls for Stream Management Plans for 80% of locally prioritized rivers in Colorado. A Stream Management Plan uses biological, hydrological, geomorphological and other data to assess the flows or other physical conditions that are needed to support collaboratively identified environmental and/or recreational values. 

What Is The Intent of These Plans?

“Colorado’s Water Plan promotes watershed health and supports the development of watershed coalitions and watershed master plans that address the needs of a diverse set of local stakeholders”

-Section 7.1 “Water Resource Management and Protection” of Colorado’s Water Plan


Stakeholder representation includes all levels of government, special districts, private landowners, businesses, citizens, nonprofits, educators, recreational interests, agricultural interests, grantors, and conservationists.

-Section 7.1 “Water Resource Management and Protection” of Colorado’s Water Plan

What Is The Role for Ag?

The agricultural community is a critical watershed stakeholder in these processes. Often they own a majority of the water rights in an area and agricultural activity provides valuable jobs, habitat, open space, and food for the wider community. A viable Stream Management Plan needs to recognize these values. Benefits to the agricultural community can provide further benefits to environmental and recreational stakeholders.

What Can Stream Management Plans Do for Ag?

•Leverage future funding for infrastructure projects


•Address a larger “river-wide” issue affecting the agricultural community

•Educate the rest of the community about the benefits of agriculture

Ditch Restoration on the Rio Grande

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Stream Restoration on Left Hand Creek

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Ditch Restoration on the Mancos


Ditch & Irrigation Inventory

information coming soon

Things to Keep in Mind with Stream Management Planning...

•Emphasize that prior appropriation is our system and senior water rights are decreed for irrigation


•Have stakeholder meetings convenient for producers since they are likely the only people who are not being paid to be involved


•Make sure the Statement of Work includes efforts to understand and document agricultural interactions

•Assure both the impact and benefits from agricultural uses are recognized


•Make sure there is an understanding of the purpose of current irrigation practices and the potential impacts any stream management options may have on agriculture


•Have input on the consultant team and the basin coordinator

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