SMP Nuts and Bolts

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Explore SMP Approaches

SMPs can take many forms, depending upon goals, local conditions and stakeholder desires. Although the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) offers guidance for what a SMP must include to be eligible for CWCB grant funding, there is no “right” way to do a SMP. More than 25 communities have undertaken SMPs since 2016 with an array of approaches.

“Stream Management Plans” Vs. “Integrated Water Management Plans”

SMPs are data-driven assessments of river health that help communities prioritize how to protect or enhance environmental and recreational assets in their watershed. SMPs can be combined with consumptive water use planning efforts, thereby approaching water planning in a more integrated manner. Deciding whether to undertake a SMP or an Integrated Water Management Plan (IWMP) is a defining choice that will influence both stakeholder and method selection. Learn more about the differences between SMPs and IWMPs here.

Examples of SMPs that focus primarily on environmental or recreational outcomes include:

Crystal River

Cache La Poudre River (Fort Collins)

Yampa River (Steamboat Springs)

South Platte River (Chatfield)

Examples of IWMPs that combine consumptive planning with environmental or recreational outcomes include:

Middle Colorado River (Glenwood Springs to DeBeque)

Eagle River

Upper Gunnison River

Yampa River

The following pre-planning questions may help you decide what kind of SMP process you are interested in.


Have you reviewed other SMPs and CWCB’s grant guidance?


Are there SMPs that closely mirror the goals, approach or outcomes you seek?


  1. Start with the basics – visit SMP 101 which details the history, process and benefits of stream management planning.
  2. To learn about SMP similarities and differences, go to Visit Existing SMPs which provides summary sheets on all SMPs that received CWCB funding.
Colorado SMP Library