About the Roundtable

What is the Roundtable?

State lawmakers passed Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act in 2005. The measure established roundtables in each of the state’s eight water basins, including the Rio Grande, and another for the Denver Metropolitan Area. The roundtables were meant to foster discussion on water issues within and between basins and to encourage local solutions. The legislation also created the Interbasin Compact Committee as of means of enabling cooperation and to meet the state’s water needs. The Legislature funded the roundtables through the severance tax trust fund, which draws tax revenue from the mining of coal and other minerals and the extraction of oil and gas. Funding levels vary, according to the amount of tax revenue, but can range up to $10 million annually for the roundtables.

The RGBRT regularly facilitates discussions on water management issues, educates Coloradans, and engages communities in water-related projects and information. The RGBRT is comprised of members of the public who represent the diverse agricultural, municipal and industrial, environmental, and recreational water needs of the Rio Grande Basin. The RGBRT advocates for the Rio Grande Basin and collaborates with other Roundtables to find solutions to intra-basin and Colorado’s inter-basin water issues.

How do I apply for funding?

The WSRA Program provides grants and loans to assist Colorado water users in addressing their critical water supply issues and interests. The funds help eligible entities complete water activities, which may include competitive grants for:

  • Technical assistance regarding permitting, feasibility studies and environmental compliance
  • Studies or analysis of structural, nonstructural, consumptive and non-consumptive water needs, projects or activities
  • Structural and nonstructural water projects or activities.

Rio Grande Basin Roundtable Contacts:
Nathan Coombs: [email protected]
Megan Holcomb: [email protected]


What types of projects are funded through the Roundtable?

The Roundtable funds projects through their Basin account and the statewide Water Supply Reserve Fund account. Projects must align with the Colorado Water Plan goals and objectives as well as the Rio Grande Basin’s Implementation Plan goals and objectives. For more information on past and current funded projects, please go to the Projects or Funding Opportunities pages.

Does the roundtable own water rights?


Does the roundtable regulate water?

No. The roundtable has no authority to administer water rights. That authority belongs to the Colorado Division of Water Resources.

When does the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable meet? Can I come?

The Rio Grande Basin Roundtable generally meets on the second Tuesday of every month at 2 pm at the San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District office conference area. Meeting times and dates are announced through the local paper, this website, and the Roundtable newsletter. All interested community members are encouraged to attend.

Water Terms

What are subdistricts?

Subdistricts are a ground roots effort to improve aquifer sustainability and replace out-of-priority depletions in the San Luis Valley. The basin is required by the State Engineer to reach sustainable aquifer levels by 2030, else the State Engineer will begin shutting off wells. The subdistricts are regions of the valley, grouped by similar well type and use, where well users have joined together to make plans for how they will mitigate any injury they cause and voluntarily reduce their pumping. Each year, the six subdistricts must create an annual replacement plan, or ARP, which they submit to the Division of Water Resources for review. The subdistricts are in various stages of development, with only three fully formed and ready to submit ARPs annually. Learn more about subdistricts here.

What is the difference between a water conservation district and a conservancy district?

Both of these organizations build and administer water projects, interface with federal agencies, and administer the repayment of project capital and operations and maintenance costs, as well as transit information and coordinate efforts among agencies, political subdivisions, and private citizens and businesses concerning the conservation protection and development of CO water. However, conservation districts tend to have a broader focus, addressing the bigger picture. Conservancy districts address more local needs. Additionally, conservation districts are established by state legislature, while conservancy districts are established by public petition.

What is the Colorado Water Plan?

The Colorado Water Plan is a unique document first approved in 2015 and created at the direction of Governor John Hickenlooper. It outlines beneficial uses, goals, and much more. Learn more about the Colorado Water Plan here.

What is the Colorado Water Conservation Board?

The Colorado Water Conservation Board, or CWCB, is a government entity created to provide policy direction on Colorado’s water issues. It is overseen by a board of 15 members with representatives from across the state. Learn more about CWCB here.

What is the difference between consumptive and non-consumptive water use?

Consumptive use permanently removes water from its source and consumes it. This would include evaporation, plant uptake, and consumption by people and livestock. Non-consumptive use either does not remove the water from its source or immediately returns it. This includes recreation and return flows from irrigated lands.

What is a water augmentation plan?

A water augmentation plan is an agreement to mitigate injury from a well to the aquifer by recharging water from a surface water right into the aquifer. For example, a homeowner not on municipal water supply who irrigates an acre of lawn and owns two horses will rely on well water for these uses. By law, they must purchase an augmentation plan to replace their depletions to the aquifer. The San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District provides augmentation plans in the San Luis Valley. Learn more about augmentation plans and their work here.

Water in the San Luis Valley

How do I contact a water representative in my area?

Each county of the Rio Grande Basin has a representative on the Roundtable. Find your representative by going to the Members page. Additionally, the following areas have conservancy or conservation district staff:

San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District, manager Heather Dutton. 719-589-2230

Conejos/La Jara
Conejos Water Conservancy District, manager Nathan Coombs. 719-843-5261

Trinchera Irrigation District, ditch superintendent Wayne Schwab. 719-379-3467
Costilla Water Conservancy District, secretary Ronda Lobato. 719-399-2424

Rio Grande Water Conservation District, manager Cleave Simpson. 719-589-6301
Colorado Division of Water Resources, Division III. 719-589-6683

When does the irrigation season start and end?

The irrigation season generally begins on April 1 and ends on November 1. Exceptions may be made, but only through the approval of the Division III water engineer.

How do I apply for a well permit?

Well permits are only issued by the Colorado Division of Water Resources; contact them for more information.

Does my well fall under the new well rules and regulations for the Rio Grande Basin?

Maybe. The well rules and regulations apply to all non-exempt wells in the San Luis Valley. The rules mandate that wells must either have an augmentation plan to replace their depletions to the aquifer or belong to a subdistrict, which replace depletions as a group, by March 2021. Exempt wells, which don’t fall under the rules and regulations, can include: household use only wells, commercial wells that serve only drinking and sanitation facilities, certain confined aquifer domestic and livestock wells, and monitoring wells. For more information, take a look at the Colorado Well Permit Guide or contact the Division of Water Resources.

Where can I find information about current snowpack conditions and river flows?

Stream gauge information can be found at the Colorado Division of Water Resources website, here. Current snowpack conditions can be found at the Natural Resources Conservation Service website, here.

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