Colorado River “The Loop” is located six miles above the Green River confluence in Canyonlands National Park, 50 miles downstream of Moab, Utah. © Peter McBride/National Geographic Creative

Colorado River Basin

Coming Together for the Colorado River

Learn how farmers and ranchers are working to keep more water in the river.

If you eat carrots or lettuce in the winter, chances are the Colorado River irrigated those crops.

The Colorado River irrigates 3.2 million acres within the Colorado River Basin itself and 2.5 million acres outside of the basin, places like California’s Imperial Valley. That’s a total area nearly the size of New Hampshire.

Razorback Sucker Close-up of razorback sucker © TNC/Linda Whitham

We are currently using more water than the river can support, and as the population grows, demands are increasing. Agriculture uses approximately 80 percent of the Colorado River’s water, and cities, towns, hydropower and outdoor recreation need the river’s water to keep flowing.

Of course, nature needs the water too. Fish, plants and wildlife depend on it. All of these competing demands for water requires us to come together to find solutions to protect and conserve this limited resource.

This is why, The Nature Conservancy is working with farmers and ranchers throughout the Colorado River Basin on projects that will help their growing operation, while also keeping more water in the river to benefit people and nature.

The Colorado River About 40 million people rely on the Colorado River for drinking water, and it irrigates 3.2 million acres within its own basin and 2.5 million acres outside of the basin in places like California’s Imperial Valley.

Partnership Projects

  • Grand-Valley-River-Colorado

    The Grand Valley

    We're partnering with water rights holders in the Grand Valley on a “water bank,” where they get paid to forgo water on a temporary basis and “bank” that water for use at other times, in other places. More About This Project

  • yamp-river-colorado

    Yampa River Valley

    We're working in Colorado’s Yampa River Valley to modernize and improve water delivery systems, making them more efficient and use only the water they need. Other Yampa River Projects

  • utah-price-river

    The Price River

    Along the Price River in Utah, we're working with farmers to upgrade their infrastructure while improving fish habitat.

  • verde-river-arizona

    The Verde River

    Near Arizona’s Verde River, we're working with farmers on a project where they switch to growing a crop that uses less water at driest times, then we help establish a profitable market for that crop. More About This Project

Agriculture producers care just as much or more about our water resources than anyone else—they want to be good stewards and their livelihoods depend on it. So it only makes sense that we come together, find common ground and work toward solutions to make sure the Colorado River is there for all who depend on it today and for future generations tomorrow.