Supporting Stream Management Plans in Colorado

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Spring 2019 News

Applications for River Network assistance to develop a CWCB grant application for Stream Management Plans are now available!  Includes funding of up to $8,000 per coalition (additional financial support available for coalitions lead by agricultural water users). Apply by May 15 2019.  More information and application materials found in the “Resource Files” at the bottom of this page.

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A SMP on Denver’s South Platte River aims to add water during low flow periods for the fishery

In 2016, the State of Colorado adopted Colorado’s Water Plan which creates a water management roadmap to achieve a productive economy, vibrant and sustainable cities, productive agriculture, a strong environment, and a robust recreation industry. Specific to protecting and enhancing stream flows, the plan calls for 80 percent of locally prioritized rivers to be covered by Stream Management Plans (SMPs) by 2030. SMPs develop data-driven water management and physical project recommendations capable of protecting or enhancing environmental and recreational values on streams and rivers.

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. It uses this assessment to identify and prioritize management actions to maintain or improve flow regimes and other physical conditions at a reach scale.

SMPs can be combined with other kinds of watershed planning, such as those used by irrigators or municipal suppliers, to maximize the efficiency and quality of the water they use.

The State of Colorado allocates $5 million annually to a grant program to develop projects and plans that protect or restore watershed health and stream function. This funding has kick-started local interest across Colorado to develop Stream Management Plans.

River Network, with support from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Gates Family Foundation, has been enlarging the pipeline of local coalitions that are interested, ready and capable of undertaking stream management plans.

The project focuses on three areas:

Educate a broad constituency on what a stream management plan is, how and why communities undertake them and what lessons they’ve learnedIn Spring 2019, River Network launched coloradosmp.org, a guide to implementing SMPs
Help engage water rights owners (particularly riparian landowners and irrigators) earlier in watershed planning projectsIn 2019, River Network is coordinating with agriculture groups to develop information and videos specific to irrigators' needs.
Support local coalitions as they scope, write and fundraise for their planRiver Network's financial and capacity building assistance has started six SMPs totaling more than $2million in funding

Learn More

Resource Files

In the resource files below, find: 1) FAQs for coalitions interested in support  2) additional opportunity for agriculture-led coalitions 3) the application for support