Fraser River II

A handful of water diversions from tributaries to the Upper Fraser River can reduce flows and have the potential to significantly impact downstream flows in dry years. Previously, the water rights holders were hesitant to take any steps to reduce diversions, conserve water, or enhance flows in the creek because they would have risked losing or devaluing their water rights under certain provisions of western water law.  As a result, water rights holders lacked the ability to share water with streams in times of drought or other environmental stress.

The Upper Fraser Tributaries project makes use of a relatively new Colorado law that allows water rights holders to enter into a long-term water conservation program and use their water to benefit rivers—without risk of losing or devaluing their water rights.  With funding provided by BEF’s Water Restoration Program, the Colorado Water Trust worked closely with the water user to develop an approved Water Conservation Program that can restore flows to several streams in the Fraser River Basin in five out of the next ten years.  This Colorado project is a direct result of prior work in the basin supported by BEF’s Water Restoration Program. The owners of certain water rights on tributaries of the Fraser River contacted the Colorado Water Trust after reading a local newspaper article about the Colorado Water Trust’s BEF-supported water conservation program on Willow Creek. The Upper Fraser Tributaries project can restore up to 167 million gallons of water per implementation year to benefit up to 16.4 stream miles on streams tributary to the Fraser River and the Fraser River.

* Project supports voluntary transactions to change, reduce or stop water use – either temporarily or permanently – to protect or restore water for environmental benefit

** This resource has been reviewed and found to meet the BEF Flow Program Certification Criteria for Evaluating Proposals to Secure Environmental Flows by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.


North Central Colorado

Start Up Date:


Project Benefits:

Environmental Flows

Wildlife & Habitat Improvement

Project Type:

Flow Restoration Transaction *


Fully Funded

WRCs Generated:

Yes **