Celebrating Colorado's Water

mom with child on back walking along lake

All things are water. It is a necessity of life. Water makes up 60 percent of the human body. We rely on it for drinking, cooking, bathing, washing clothes, growing food, recreation, industry, mining and the generation of electric power. Like the air we breathe, water is essential for our daily life. 

photo of blue water on lake surface

Earth, the water planet, is the only one in our solar system presently characterized and shaped by abundant liquid water. On our planet the most controlling resource is water - not oil or minerals - but water. Its distribution, quality, availability and quantity are the controls for the development of agriculture, industry, rural, urban and municipal use. The water-rich areas of the world are truly the richest places on Earth.


The Water Cycle

  graphic of the water cycle

The constant movement of water from oceans to atmosphere, to land surface and back to the oceans again is known as the water (hydrologic) cycle. 

The Watershed

graphic of watershed

The line of topographic high points separating two drainage basins marks the watershed divide. When precipitation (rain or snow) falls on the surface, water either infiltrates rapidly into the soil to become part of the groundwater, or runs off the surface into streams and rivers. This runoff eventually becomes the water people use for drinking, agriculture, recreation and other uses. National Forest lands are the largest single source of water in the United States; The 3 millions acres of the GMUG National Forest comprise over 240 watersheds that supply water to the surrounding communities.  

Our Global Water

graphic of fresh water availability

Most of the water on Earth (approximately 97.5 percent) is salt water located mostly in the oceasn, and only 2.5 percent is fresh water. Most of the Earth's fresh water is frozen in polar ice caps and glaciers, making it unavailable for use. The fresh water available for our water needs is less than 1 percent of Earth's supply. Of the remaining freshwater supply most is ground water but a small portion is surface water.  Because of the uneven distribution of water resources it has controlled human habitation and development through history.

Want to learn more about the water issues in Colorado?

The Colorado River Water Conservation District has produced 4 water education videos that are very informative- check them out!

Water Quality Monitoring Trunks - check one out!

photo of water quality trunk contents

Check out one of our trunks, full of equipment to monitor various water quality parameters from aquatic invertebrates, PH, flow, dissolved oxygen and more. Curriculum is appropriate for 7th-12th grade students. For more information.....


Get involved in the action....

photo of kids pouring water on grass& soil covered culverts


OBSERVE A WATER FESTIVAL! Getting WET! At the Montrose Water Festival, 4th grade students demonstrate how trees and other vegetation keeps sediment from eroding into our rivers.  

phot of students playing in river demo

JOIN A RIVER DAY CELEBRATION! Kids build their own river systems and decide what land uses  (dairy farms, corn fields, wetlands) they want next to their river.  Water is pumped through the model to demonstrate various hydrology prinicples like erosion, sedimentaion, thalwag, meander, wetland, point and non-point pollution sources and much more. Mostly, the kids just love playing in the water

Ridgway, Colorado- June - Rollans Park  This event  features wildwater kayaks, hard shell kayaks, inflatables, junk on the Unc, white water rodeo, river model, water jeopardy and other activities for kids, live music and  lots more! 

Gunnison, Colorado - June - Gunnison River White Water Park along Hwy 50 just west of Gunnison.We are creating an event that is educational and a celebration of rivers and their uses,” said John Messner, board chairman. Friday night features Gunnison River Games (dryland) and live music by Tornado Rider at Legion Park, just off U.S. Hwy. 50. As in past festivals, this year’s event will offer a variety of raft and kayak events, a hooligan race, a kids water safe zone, and a community float where anyone can float the Gunnison River for a very inexpensive fee.  (http://www.gunnisonriverfestival.com/)

Paonia River Days - April - Sponsored by the Western Slope Conservation Center and U.S. Forest Service.  This event engages fourth grade students from the North Fork Valley in a variety of fun, hands-on  activities where kids learn about riparian birds, investigate aquatic insects, generate their own power, bake bread in a solar oven, orienteering, and more.



CONTRIBUTE TO RIVER OF WORDS is and environmental art and poetry program designed to help youth explore the natural and cultural history of the place they live.  After studying a nearby watershed, students express, through poetry and art what they discover. River of Words trains teachers, youth leaders, and other educators to incorporate nature and the arts into their work with children and teens. (More on River of Words Program)


  • The annual poetry and art contest — the largest in the world — inspires children ages 5 to 19 to translate their observations into creative expression. Students are invited to enter a FREE national Art and Poetry contest administered in Berkeley, California. Again this is a NATIONAL contest open to students who reside in any state! About 100 poems and artworks are selected as National finalists each year. All winners receive ribbons, books or art supplies, T-shirts and other prizes (contest deadline is December 1 More contest information).


  • River of Words provides tools for teaching ecoliteracy — the understanding of the natural world around us — to children, teens, and teachers through art and poetry. The multidisciplinary, interactive curricula — Watershed Explorer and One Square Block — improves literacy, enhance investigation and critical thinking, and nurtures creativity.  To Download Teacher Curriculm


Related links to check out:

Thirsty for more information about Colorado water? - Colorado Foundation for Water Education Citizens Guides and Headwater Magazine are available at yourwatercolorado.org

What is water conservation and why is it important to you?  Water Conservation at Home  and the Home Water Conservation Guide provide some great conservation ideas for your home. , How kids can save water, kids water conservation games like water trivia, a water glossary, conservation activity book and much more... check it out!

Water Conservation? Need information on conservation ideas, practices or statistics? Check out the following.....

For a variety of water activities for the classroom -check out Project WET (Water Education for Teachers)

Really FUN Project WET activities for students (From the Project WET Teacher Guide)

  • Aqua Bodies  (elementary school)
  • Is there water on Zork?  (middle school)
  • Color me a watershed (middle school)
  • A drop in the bucket (elementary and middle school)
  • Pass the Jug (elementary and middle school)
  • Water Olympics (elementary and middle school)
  • Macro-inveterbrate Mayhem (elementary and middle school)

Other activities for kids: