Just Add Water

Denver, CO   |


The mission of the Colorado Water Trust is to restore water to Colorado's rivers.

Ruling year info


Principal Officer

Andrew Schultheiss

Main address

1312 17th Street #766

Denver, CO 80202 USA

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NTEE code info

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Water Resource, Wetlands Conservation and Management (C32)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Water Rights Solutions

Water Rights Solutions include purchasing or leasing water rights to restore flows to dry rivers, coordinating water-sharing agreements, and establishing other innovative partnerships with water users throughout the state.

Population(s) Served

In addition to engaging in its own conservation activities, the Colorado Water Trust serves as a resource for land trusts with water issues that arise in connection with land conservation activities. Examples of current technical assistance projects include: 

 Water Rights Workshops. In 2010, CWT received funding to offer 12 workshops around the state of Colorado which would engage land conservation professionals, watershed groups, federal and state agency professionals, and city and county officials in a full-day event to provide background on basic Colorado water law, instream flow transactions and the history and operation of the state's Instream Flow Program.

 Water Rights Assessments. Land trusts have the opportunity to obtain a review of existing easements for an anaylsis of the organization’s encumbered water rights.  In addition to a summary of encumbered water rights, a report will offer technical suggestions and solutions for handling water issues in the future.

 Model Language. CWT is currently in the process of updating our previously release Model Conservation Easement Language for encumbering water rights. Much has changed since the original release of the model language and by updating the model language to include these changes, CWT hopes to recommend best practices and ensure important water rights remain with valuable conservation easements.

Population(s) Served

River infrastructure, such as dams and diversion structures, often cause low flows and/or hinder fish passage. Colorado Water Trust works with ditch owners and engineering consultants to improve river infrastructure to keep rivers healthy. Some examples include:

- Headgate and delivery system upgrades that make diversions more efficient.
- Moving a point of diversion downstream or changing the source of water (e.g. from surface diversion to a well).
- Installing low flow channels around existing structures
-Removing abandoned dams

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Colorado Water Trust’s newest strategic plan was adopted in the dry summer of 2022, at the threshold of a new era in Colorado water administration. With numerous legal and administrative tools to keep more water in our rivers and streams without causing harm to consumptive users, Colorado Water Trust has the ability to impact the future of our natural world at a much greater scale than we have in the past. And our new strategic plan builds upon our past 21 years of flow restoration work to do just that.

This is Colorado Water Trust’s seventh and most ambitious strategic plan. It will guide us through 2027 and build upon our past work to go even further. Taking into account the impacts of climate change, continued population growth, and with feedback from our partners and other players in our space gathered through a robust process, we set out the following programmatic goals for the next five years.

GOAL #1: DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT TWO NEW CORE PROGRAM AREAS: Community-based Projects and Reservoir Release Program.

These are the programmatic elements of our new strategic plan, and this work doesn’t occur on its own. As we expand our innovative solutions to Colorado’s water challenges, we have additional goals that focus on improving our brand and communications, increasing our resources, growing our fundraising support, and ensuring we have the right number of talented and fulfilled staff.

The Water Trust will also focus on creating ways for the organization to do its part in broadening the racial and ethnic diversity of the water community, and forging connections to organizations active in diverse racial communities in Colorado.

Community-based Projects: The Water Trust will identify, develop, and implement at least one significant multi-purpose project each in an urban and rural community. These projects will consider the needs of people that are often forgotten in the design of environmental projects.

Reservoir Release Program: By 2024, we will implement a new program centered around existing reservoirs and their potential to provide benefits to downstream rivers and multiple beneficial uses through coordinated efforts. We will aim to find matches between available water or capacity, stream need, and downstream use. We will use various legal mechanisms to make releases, with a pool of resources available for compensation as we move forward.

We aim to double the average annual flow volumes that we return to Colorado’s streams and rivers compared with our first twenty-one years. We will also evaluate the transformative effect of our existing and new projects. We will develop metrics to measure how our present and future projects might strengthen and make more resilient the diverse human communities that depend and live in close proximity to Colorado’s streams and rivers. This data will inform how we assess and deploy our resources equitably for maximum community impact.

Colorado Water Trust will engage in public policy discussions and advocacy to expand its leverage and influence in pursuing the goal of streamflow restoration within the state. We will support the enactment of legislation or adoption of policies that will further its work, and will advocate against undesirable legislation or policies. Consistent with its non-partisan and non-controversial history, the Water Trust’s advocacy efforts will include ensuring that the interests of multiple water-related sectors are considered and balanced.

Colorado Water Trust has a lean staff of eight including an Executive Director with over 20 years of experience in conservation, water attorneys, water resources specialists, and development and communications staff. We are governed by a board of directors comprised of 17 industry experts in the fields of water law, water engineering, agriculture, business, and nonprofits. We are the pre-eminent environmental water transactions expert in Colorado, committed to a future where water is used efficiently and shared with low transactional cost or friction, allowing rivers and streams to flow more strongly.

We are funded by diverse sources such as private foundations, corporations, individuals, and government agencies which provides financial stability and the resources we need to operate our programs.

Colorado Water Trust was founded in 2001 with a mission is to restore flows to Colorado’s rivers in need. Over the past 21 years, we have implemented 22 streamflow restoration projects throughout the state, pioneering legal tools and infrastructure solutions that have ultimately returned over 17.4 billion gallons of water to nearly 600 miles of Colorado’s rivers and streams.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Board of directors
as of 04/19/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Emily Hunt

City of Thornton

Term: 2014 - 2024

Anne Castle

Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment at the University of Colorado

Ben Hrouda

Flywheel Capital

Paul Bruchez

Reeder Creek Ranch

Marsha Daughenbaugh


Wayne Forman

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Emily Hunt

City of Thornton

Brad Weinig

Denver Department of Housing Stability

John Carron

Hydros Consulting

Sarah Klahn

Somach Simmons & Dunn

Julie Nania

High Country Conservation Advocates

Matt Rice

American Rivers

Tom Romero

Sturm College of Law

Matt Rooney

Spirit Hound Distillers

Michelle Johnson

Martin and Wood Water Consultants, Inc.

Zane Kessler

Colorado River District

Kirsten Kurath

Williams, Turner & Holmes, PC

Chris Sanchez

BBA Water Consultants, Inc.

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 5/25/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

Transgender Identity

No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 10/13/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.