River District Awards 100th Community Funding Partnership Grant

The Northwest Colorado Council of Governments received the landmark Community Funding Partnership grant to support a vital water and economic report update.

Thursday, October 12, 2023 

Glenwood Springs, Colorado — The Colorado River District is proud to announce the approval of its 100th Community Funding Partnership (CFP) grant, awarded to the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG) Water Quality/Quantity Committee (QQ) in the amount of $33,248. This grant supports the Water and Its Relationship to the Economies of the Headwaters Counties (2012) Report Update, a project designed to provide fresh insights into the regional and statewide economic impacts of water resources in the headwaters of the Colorado River. Since its inception in 2020, the Community Funding Partnership has now awarded $7,973,000 to water projects across the West Slope.

“The Colorado River District is thrilled to approve its 100th grant, Water and Its Relationship to the Economies of the Headwaters Counties Report Update,” said Community Funding Partnership Program Manager Melissa Wills. “Water is the cornerstone of our communities, and this updated report will empower our state with the knowledge needed to ensure responsible management and sustainable use of this precious resource. The momentum this project builds shows the power of investment in local water solutions and the impact of CFP’s three-year grant work.”

Released in 2012, the original ‘Economies of the Headwaters’ report has informed policymakers, water professionals, and the public about the intricate relationship between water and economic stability in the region. The updated report will continue to focus on three primary economic drivers in the headwaters region – recreation tourism, agriculture, and resource extraction – and will build on the original report’s foundation to offer deeper economic insights in light of changing climate conditions. Fully understanding the economic interdependence of the headwaters region and its water resources will serve as a vital resource for future decision-making and policy planning.

The project’s applicant and partners include local watershed and community groups, local businesses, the Colorado Basin Roundtable, the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the State Engineer, and the Department of Agriculture. Moving forward, the group aims to collaborate with economists to collect and update data, conduct interviews, incorporate new studies, and provide new examples of the economic impacts already felt in the region due to low flows and high temperatures. The project will also deliver improved projections for future climate change impacts on river and stream flows, emphasizing the effect on economies in headwaters counties and overall state economic health.

“QQ has been working since the 1970s to protect water quality and quantity in the headwaters region,” said Claire Carroll, NWCCOG Water Quality/Quantity Committee Co-Director. “The region’s economy is inextricably linked to water quality and watershed health. This study will provide important, updated information on those linkages in order to sustain the protection of water resources and the economic wellbeing of the headwaters region.”

A road show for the project will include conference participation, county and local government meetings, and other events. The outreach effort anticipates direct engagement with over 1,000 Coloradans, ensuring that the new report’s findings reach a wide and diverse audience for both maximum public engagement and greater understanding of water’s economic impacts in the region and state.

Funding the Water and Its Relationship to the Economies of the Headwaters Counties Report Update underscores the Colorado River District’s commitment to support local communities and West Slope water users with the information and resources they need for critical water resources planning and decision-making in the headwaters.

“The NWCCOG project truly embodies the collective innovation and ‘get-to-work’ spirit of our West Slope water users and the 99 awarded CFP projects to-date,” Wills reflected. “Working together across organizations and interest groups to find ‘win-win’ outcomes in our hotter, drier landscape will continue to pay dividends for our communities. We can’t wait to see the long-term benefits of these and the next 100 Community Funding Partnership grants.”


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