Frequently Asked Questions


Why establish an Upper Colorado River watershed group?

Taken from our agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation:

“The Nation faces an increasing set of water resource challenges.  Aging infrastructure, rapid population growth, depletion of groundwater resources, impaired water quality associated with particular land uses and land covers, water needed for human and environmental uses, drought and climate change all play a role in determining the amount of fresh water available at any given place and time.  Water shortages and water-use conflicts have become more commonplace in many areas of the United States, even in normal water years.  As competition for water resources grows – crop irrigation, city and community growth, energy production, and the environment – the need for information and tools to aid water resource managers also grows.”

What is WaterSMART?

We are currently funded by a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART grant. WaterSMART (Sustain and Manage America’s Resources for Tomorrow)

US Bureau of Reclamation program, Congressional Mandate with Agency cooperation (Dept. of Agriculture)

Focus on disaster preparedness: Drought, Wildfire, Flood

Emphasis on Ecological Resilience: the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change, so as to retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedback (USBR)

Deliverables (tangible outcome that is produced by the project) :  Watershed Group 501(c)3, Watershed Resiliency Plan

How can I get involved?

Right now, the best way that you can be involved in Grand County watershed resiliency is by coming to our events or just by contacting us. We are working through a long process of connecting the many people and organizations doing great work on behalf of our watershed and we need EVERY voice at the table.

We are currently looking for Board Members and Volunteers. Please contact us if you are interested. 

Also be sure to sign up on our email list and follow us on Facebook for updates!


What is a watershed?

From the the USGS:A watershed is an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall to a common outlet such as the outflow of a reservoir, mouth of a bay, or any point along a stream channel. The word watershed is sometimes used interchangeably with drainage basin or catchment. Ridges and hills that separate two watersheds are called the drainage divide. The watershed consists of surface water–lakes, streams, reservoirs, and wetlands–and all the underlying ground water. Larger watersheds contain many smaller watersheds. It all depends on the outflow point; all of the land that drains water to the outflow point is the watershed for that outflow location. Watersheds are important because the streamflow and the water quality of a river are affected by things, human-induced or not, happening in the land area “above” the river-outflow point…Watersheds can be as small as a footprint or large enough to encompass all the land that drains water into rivers that drain into Chesapeake Bay, where it enters the Atlantic Ocean.”

From our community (generated from responses gathered during our 2016 community meetings):

What is a watershed group?

To describe the purpose of a watershed group, we must start by thinking locally. Specific goals and priorities for a watershed group will vary depending on the characteristics of the watershed and the people who depend on it.

One definition of a watershed group from the Alpine Watershed Group in eastern California, is, “a locally organized, voluntary, non-regulatory group established to assess the condition of the watershed and build a work plan to implement restoration and protections activities within the watershed.

A healthy watershed helps filter sediment and pollutants while supporting the many living organisms that depend on the ecosystem. Healthy watersheds improve the economy and help provide resources for everyone to use and enjoy.  The Alpine Watershed Group is committed to providing healthy watersheds for future and current generations.”

In order to define what a watershed group in Grand County, Colorado will look like, we need engagement from Grand County citizens, starting with the community meetings happening Fall 2016.

Here are just a few examples of successful watershed groups across the country:

What is a watershed plan?

Again, it is important to remember that what constitutes a watershed plan will greatly depend on the specific location and needs of the watershed and the people who are involved in creating such a plan.

From the EPA (with our grant, we will be accomplishing Steps 1-4) :