SMP Nuts and Bolts

Get Started

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Understand Current Knowledge and Data

A thorough review of existing planning documents, studies and data sets is essential when starting an SMP. Using recent studies and data to characterize existing conditions will save time and money, as compared to collecting new data, and can help identify the needs and goals that a SMP can address.

Common Starting Points

The depth and quality of existing data will vary widely from place to place, but there are some common starting points. The list below includes both high-level reports and fine-scale datasets. It isn’t necessary to fully analyze all of these before you begin (that will be done as part of your SMP), but understanding the amount and quality of existing information will ensure that you craft a scope of work and accompanying budget for your SMP that accounts for existing information.

The Basin Implementation Plans and various Needs Assessments of the nine Basin Roundtables have collected bibliographies that are a recent compilation of existing information.

The State of Colorado Water Quality Control Division maintains a list of all 319 non-point source pollution plans in the state, as well as a shared database of water quality data.

The Colorado Division of Water Resources maintains water rights, structures, diversions, irrigated lands, streamflow and other data in its HydroBase database.

Public land management agencies including BLM, U.S. Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife maintain large data sets (both published and unpublished) on riparian condition and aquatic biota.

The Colorado Natural Heritage Program recently released a Watershed Planning Toolbox and web mapping tool that includes spatial data sets on wetlands and waterbodies, biodiversity and wildlife habitat functions, water quality functions, water quantity and geomorphic functions, and restoration prioritization. 

CWCB’s Hazard Mapping & Risk MAP Portal maintains flood hazard maps and LiDAR imagery for the state.

Resource Conservation Districts can help assess agricultural water needs. The Natural Resource Conservation Service Field Office Technical Guide also provides data on agricultural and natural resource conditions.

CWCB’s Water Plan Technical Update has information about current and future water needs for municipal, industrial and agricultural users across Colorado.

Colorado State University’s eRAMS (Environmental Resources Assessment and Management Systems) is an open source platform that houses apps for water, land and energy planning and management. Current apps include flow analysis, watershed rapid assessments, and maps of water quality impairments.

The CWCB Environmental Flow Tool provides information on environmental and recreational flow needs and potential flow impairments.


  1. The following pre-planning questions may help you consider the full array of existing information.

Do you understand the river’s hydrology at a range of flows (base, low, flood)?


Can available data help you understand existing environmental conditions, water administration and management? Is the data refined and documented enough that you are comfortable using it? How does the amount of existing information affect the SMP approach?


Have you met with the water commissioner to understand diversions, exchanges, water rights and augmentation plans?


Might any existing activities or initiatives in your watershed qualify as, or contribute to, stream management planning such as master plans, environmental impact statements for water projects, watershed assessments, fluvial hazard zone mapping, or 319 non-point source plans?

  1. The Colorado Basin Roundtable developed a set of data dashboards that enable users to explore existing and natural flows, water use and shortages, the degree of hydrologic alteration, water quality and water quality compliance across the basin. It also maintains a library (Click on Searchable Library Tab) of existing studies that are relevant to integrated water management planning in the basin. 
Colorado SMP Library