Colorado has been dubbed “The Mother of Rivers”. Interstate compacts require the State to release a specified number of acre feet water out of the state in rivers. What remains is used for agricultural, municipal, and industrial purposes.
Colorado water law is governed by the “Doctrine of Prior Appropriation”. Water is property of the State and rights to that water can be bought, sold and leased. Merely having a ditch, creek, river or pond on your property does not guarantee the right to use it. Water is often the driving force of all economies in the West and thus is bound by legal restrictions.
While agricultural uses account for 85% of the water appropriations in Colorado, the Statewide Water Supply Initiative (SWSI) shows a shortfall of water in the South Platte Basin with projected population growth and future development within that water basin. Ag water will likely be sought after for providing that water for municipal and industrial uses.
Irrigation efficiency is important for this reason and for many other positive impacts on the crop health and the environment. Boulder County sees on average 14 inches on the plains to 30 inches on the Continental Divide (precip measured in liquid form). Drought years will show less than average precipitation.
|State Resources||Irrigation Resources|
|Domestic Resources – Includes drinking water quality tool||Water and Climate Monitoring|
- Colorado Water Resources Research Institute
- Colorado Foundation for Water Education
- Colorado Division of Water Resources
- Colorado Water Conservation Board
- CSU Extension Water Resources Page
- CoAgMet Crop Water Use and ET Access
- DARCA – Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance
- Northern Colorado Water Conservation District – online weather stations for local data
- St. Vrain Water and Left Hand Water Conservancy District
- CSU Water Quality Interpretation Tool
- CSU Domestic Use Factsheets – includes yard and garden irrigation
- Factsheet: Irrigation Ditches and Their Operation
- CSU Irrigation Factsheets
- New Mexico State University Irrigation Factsheets
Irrigation Vendors (no endorsements implied, provided for resources only)
- CPS Distributors – various Colorado Front Range locations
- Schumacher Irrigation – Nebraska
- Robert Marvel – Pennsylvania
- Valley – various Colorado dealers
- Colorado State Irrigation – Rocky Ford, CO
- Rocky Mountain Supply – various Colorado Front Range locations
- Quality Well and Pump – La Salle, CO
- Larson Irrigation – Johnstown, CO