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Colorado Water Congress records

Identifier: COU:444

Scope and Contents

The Colorado Water Congress Collection consists of documents that pertain to the organization’s by-laws and constitutions, as well as a number of governmental publications on various projects the Colorado Water Congress has handled. The collection is organized in the following manner:

SERIES I. COLORADO WATER CONGRESS (CWC) - This section is composed of two sub-categories, which are Organizational Material and Publications; in which a significant amount of information can be found on the Colorado Water Congress’s by-laws and constitutions.

SERIES II. COMPACTS, COMMISSIONS, AND REGIONAL GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS- Most of the information contained in this category are the various project reports and other organizational data. Also contains a number of books pertaining to a range of water-related projects.

SERIES III. COLORADO WATER LAWS, COURT CASES AND GENERAL MATERIALS- These are specific documents pertaining to the water laws of the state and court cases that involved water-related issues. Also contains some publications.

SERIES IV. NATIONAL, REGIONAL NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS AND PUBLICATIONS- In this section of the collection, the greatest number of publications and other data relating to the specifics of the Colorado Water Congress is found. Also contains annual reports made by the Colorado Water Congress.

SERIES V. COLORADO STATE GOVERNMENT PUBLICATIONS- Contains publication concerning water-related issues of the state of Colorado.

SERIES VI. U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLICATIONS- Contains publications concerning water-related issues on the national level as opposed to the state level.


  • Creation: 1959 - 1980

Biographical / Historical

The Colorado Water Congress began on 1957, in Washington, D.C. Leading a commission of representatives and state officials, Governor Steve McNichols presented testimony of a particular bill sanctioning the assembly of a significant reclamation project in Colorado. However, while McNichols and company were presenting their testimony, contention rose between his group of representatives and officials and representatives of other areas because they would be affected by the project McNichols wanted to initiate. As a result, McNichols thought it best to gather a conference of all the water users in the State of Colorado in one place and discuss amongst themselves the future of Colorado’s water crisis. The goal of this conference would be to amalgamate the wants of water users of the state, then present that data to the state government.

Despite being met with some animosity due to conflicting views of representatives, the first conference to take place in discussion of such issues was in September 1957 at the Colorado Water Conservation Board. A notable incident occurred at this particular meeting when two lawyers came to a disagreement on how the Colorado River water should be used after the Board was on the subject of an impending proceeding on the rights of individual water users. Although they did not agree with how the Colorado River water should be used, both opposing lawyers knew that action must be taken as soon as possible.

The next phase in the construction of the Colorado Water Congress was to assemble a group of qualified men who would represent the water users of the state of Colorado and aid the state in bringing its water crisis to an agreeable conclusion. John B. Barnard, Jr., first assistant Attorney General is responsible for the consolidation of 19 of the states water authorities, the selection being made based on how active they had been in the past over issues concerning the states water laws and issues. The first meeting of these elite 19 water officials also took place in 1957 in Denver, where they were told that the meeting was to be confidential, establish which ideas were agreed upon concerning the states water usage among all 19 men, and that all of their work would be done for the benefit of the state, omitting partisan politics and geographical bias.

As such, they would forget any earlier disagreements on which they came across in earlier meetings. A later meeting was called to legitimize the draft that the 19 men had generated; among those who approved it were approximately 90 representatives, commenting on the draft and giving input. This meeting was held in January 11, 1958. However, the newly formed Colorado Water Congress needed to maintain a non-partisan political standpoint now that they had consolidated and come up with a plan of action for Colorado’s water use. This was easily solved because Governor McNichols, a Democrat, along with the support of Attorney General Dunbar, a Republican, worked together to write a draft of their platform recommendations for the Colorado Water Congress.

Now that their political stance was secured, the Colorado Water Congress asked for the execution of three of their platform recommendations from the draft that they head created. Those three platforms were a memorandum to Congress requesting federal legislation to protect the inviolability of State water rights, for State legislation to allow the collection of a fee for the publication of water data held in a publications fund, and finally the appropriation of a $50,000 special legal and engineering studies grant. After the Colorado legislature approved these proposed platforms, Governor McNichols and Attorney General Dunbar added 10 members to

The Colorado Water Congress. As soon as the Organization Committee was born, they set about electing an Executive Committee to impart forms of by-laws and constitutions. After the complete legitimatization of the Colorado Water Congress by The Colorado legislature, the CWC began to contact several private and public organizations in order to secure funding. Now with financial support from public and private organizations, the Colorado Water Congress was able to hire a full-time secretary as well as secure an office temporarily in the 105 State Capital building. By the end of 1958, there were approximately 300 active members and 25 sustaining members.


27 linear feet

Language of Materials



The Colorado Water Congress (CWC) was organized (c.1959) to bring about the advancement of programs for the conservation, development and protection of the water resources of Colorado. It was also formed to consolidate the variety of information produced by the many water related organizations. It has members from every Colorado watershed and every classification of water user. The materials in this collection relate to water at the organization level, the State level and the Federal level.

Inventoried by: Harvey N. Gardiner, August 29, 1986 Re-organized by Harvey N. Gardiner: August 10, 1987 Reformatted by: James A. Thompkins, Jr., May, 2005 Rehoused by: Olivia H. Aldinger, December, 2014
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States