A Brief History of the Colorado Watershed Assembly

Formed in 1999, the Colorado Watershed Assembly is a statewide coalition of over 80 local organizations working to protect the health of their area’s unique watersheds. These citizens groups work to protect rivers and streams and the wildlife that relies on healthy habitat. Each local group addresses issues specific to their watershed, including water quality, environmental degradation, agricultural diversions, water conservation, and recreation. Our member organizations address their priority issues through advocacy, community outreach, and through restoration and enhancement projects.

CWA’s role is to support watershed organizations around the state and to amplify their collective voices. To that end, CWA works to build strong local watershed groups; we provide leadership training, assist member organizations with fundraising, represent the groups’ priorities before state and federal agencies, and keep member groups informed about important events and opportunities. It is a priority for the Assembly to build community-based leadership through cooperation and communication. We take a proactive, consensus-driven approach to natural resource protection.

Over the last decade, the Assembly has made significant gains. For example:
  • CWA’s Inflow Network is an electronic information and database system that compiles timely information on funding sources, conferences, events, training programs, job opportunities and relevant watershed news. The Network distributes this information in a weekly newsletter and in special alerts.
  • In 2002, CWA successfully initiated state legislation that created a volunteer donation program from state income tax returns that funds local watershed groups. The Healthy Rivers Fund has distributed more than $816,429 to over 50 local projects to date. CWA actively promotes the Fund each year.
  • We host an annual watershed conference that brings together local watershed groups with state and federal agencies and policymakers. The conference features dozens of workshops on issues affecting Colorado watersheds. Our watershed conference will be in Avon this year from October 9-11, 2012.
  • CWA produces the annual State of the Watershed Report to publicize the work of each local watershed group. We distribute the Report to the Governor’s office, the Legislature, state and federal agencies, water conservancy districts, other organizations and to the watershed groups.
  • In October 2008, the El Pomar Foundation honored the Assembly with a Robert V. Menary Award for Excellence in the Foundation’s Environmental category.