Welcome to SWCD
The Southwestern Water Conservation District (SWCD) was created by the State of Colorado 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 About Us Here!
Friday, April 3: SWCD’s 2015 Annual Water Seminar
Save the date! SWCD’s 33rd Annual Water Seminar will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Durango on Friday, April 3, 2015. Registration is now open. We look forward to seeing you there!
Did you miss the 2014 Seminar? Not to worry. Our speakers have generously agreed to share their slides. Click here to view the presentations from 2014.
2015 Legislative Session
The 2015 Legislative Session convened on Wednesday, January 7. SWCD provides regular updates on water-related legislation, the most recent of which is available here:
To review all of SWCD’s 2015 summaries on water-related legislation, click here.
Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act Passed!
On December 19, 2014, President Obama signed the Hermosa Creek Wilderness Protection Act into law!
This legislation was the result of work done by the River Protection Workgroup, a collaborative effort to provide alternative protections of values while allowing water development to continue. Members of the RPW Steering Committee include representatives of the Southwestern Water Conservation District, the conservation community, and State and Federal government agencies. The Colorado Water Conservation Board has provided much of the funding for the RPW, which were leveraged by contributions from local entities. U.S. Representative Scott Tipton (R-Cortez), U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), and U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) were all supporters of the bill.
Thanks to this community effort, nearly 38,000 acres of new wilderness will be created north of Durango as part of a measure protecting more than 100,000 acres of the Hermosa Creek watershed in the San Juan National Forest. Besides creating new wilderness, the Hermosa Creek measure would establish a special management area covering more than 70,000 acres, with much of the land remaining open to historic uses such as mountain biking, motorized recreation, and selective logging.
What is the Colorado 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 is being designed to address statewide concerns about growing demands for our water supply, while still upholding Colorado values. The first draft of the plan was presented to the Governor on December 10, 2014, with the final version due to the Governor in late 2015. The full draft plan is available online at the Colorado Water Plan website.
There’s still time to submit your own comments for consideration on the Colorado Water Plan website–>click on “Get Involved”–>click on “Submit General Input Form.”
For recent activity around the plan, download the September 2014 Water Plan Update.
For background about the plan, download this Colorado Water Plan Fact Sheet.
Colorado’s Water Plan: the Southwest Perspective
Southwest Colorado has a somewhat unique water situation, 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.
Click here to listen to a recent interview with Southwest Basins Roundtable Chairperson Mike Preston to get a local perspective on the state water plan. You can also read about the August hearing in the Durango Herald, at which members of the public gave their feedback on 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.
SWCD and River District Jointly Adopt Principles for Addressing Colorado River Drought Conditions
The two Water Conservation Districts that comprise the entire Colorado River basin in Colorado adopted implementation principles concerning how the current, extended drought conditions are addressed on the Colorado River’s storage system.
The Colorado River and Southwestern Water Conservation Districts met in a special joint meeting on September 18, 2014 in Montrose to address the ongoing drought conditions in the Colorado River basin and its effect on storage and operations of Lakes Powell and Mead. The two boards unanimously adopted a recommended priority for a contigency plan in response to extraordinarily low reservoir levels (click here to read more).
19th Annual Children’s Water Festival the Biggest Yet!
More than 900 fifth graders attended this year’s Children’s Water Festival, an educational day orgainzed by the Water Information Program and sponsored by SWCD. The event–made possible by more than 100 volunteers–was held at Ft. Lewis College on May 7. Click here to see photos!
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 the 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.