Government Information

This guide has links to Federal governmental resources.

Table of Contents for Water

Water Resources Archive

Water as a resource in Colorado and the American West has a lengthy history. Colorado territory was created on February 28, 1861. Given that water in the semi-arid region was (and is) going to be precious, water rights and laws became (and still are) a major concern.

Water Resources Archive. CSU Libraries.

While not all of the items in the archive are government resources per se, many of the items come from people who worked for the government in one capacity or another.

"Subject areas include water resources management, engineering, law and legislation, endangered species, and more. Geographic coverage focuses on Colorado but extends across the American West and around the world.

"Document types range from meeting minutes, reports, and correspondence to maps, photographs, and audiotapes. These primary materials relate to all aspects of water in Colorado and to contributions made by Coloradoans to water activities."

Drinking Water Safety

Drinking water is used in the United States for many things that go beyond drinking it: "other uses include toilet flushing, bathing, cooking, cleaning, and lawn watering."* Drinking water treatment† discusses how water is made safe for public consumption--something which varies from community to community and property to property (e.g. wells).


Basic Information about Lead in Drinking Water. Ground Water and Drinking Water. Environmental Protection Agency. (Archive.)

"EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agree that there is no known safe level of lead in a child's blood. Lead is harmful to health, especially for children." Information about how lead gets into drinking water and what you can do about it.

Drinking Water FAQ. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Answers to common questions--where drinking water comes from, health issues related to water, contaminants tested for, amount of time to boil water to disinfect it (note: longer for altitudes above 2000 meters/6561 feet), and wells. Also note: "Boiling tap water does not get rid of radioactive material."

Food and Water Safety During Hurricanes, Power Outages, and Floods. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. PDF.

Two page quick summary of "What Consumers Need to Know" in an emergency situation.

Global Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene (GWASH). Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Global access to safe water, adequate sanitation, and proper hygiene education can reduce illness and death from disease, leading to improved health, poverty reduction, and socio-economic development. However, many countries are challenged to provide these basic necessities to their populations, leaving people at risk for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)-related diseases." Information for specific groups: public, public health and medical professionals, and travelers. Publications, data & statistics that "focus on global water, sanitation, and hygiene (GWASH) issues."

Healthy Water. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Site created to answer questions about water. Topics include: drinking water; healthy swimming; water, sanitation, & hygiene; global water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH); WASH-related emergencies & outbreaks; and other uses of water. Learn about the top five causes for drinking and recreations water outbreaks.

Protect Food and Water during Hurricanes and Other Storms. U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

What do do before, during, and after a storm. Provides "steps you can take to preserve your food and water during storms." Describes how to make water safe to drink.


Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). US Environmental Protection Agency.

"The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the federal law that protects public drinking water supplies throughout the nation. Under the SDWA, EPA sets standards for drinking water quality and with its partners implements various technical and financial programs to ensure drinking water safety." Read the statute, learn about regulatory programs, other programs, and find additional information such as information about drinking water. CSU affiliates can find the legislation behind this act in Legislative Insight (search: Safe Drinking Water, to find the original act, amendments, and related topics).

*Robson, Mark G. "Drinking Water." Encyclopedia of Public Health, edited by Lester Breslow, vol. 2, Macmillan Reference USA, 2002, p. 347.

†Curry, Scott G. "Drinking-Water Treatment." Water: Science and Issues, edited by E. Julius Dasch, vol. 1, Macmillan Reference USA, 2003, pp. 257-260.

Recreational Water Safety

"Recreation in and on Freshwaters" and "Recreation in and on the Oceans" describe recreational uses of water.* Take note that there are also dangerous waters.


Healthy Swimming. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"Swimming and other water-related activities are excellent ways to get the physical activity and health benefits needed for a healthy life. However, they are not risk-free. CDC’s Healthy Swimming website provides information for all groups of individuals involved in a healthy and safe swimming experience about how to maximize the health benefits of swimming while minimizing the risk of illness and injury." Sections specifically for swimmers, aquatics professionals, residential pool/hot tub owners, medical professionals, and public health professionals.

Microbial (Pathogen)/Recreational Water Quality Criteria. Environmental Protection Agency (Archived page).

Criteria from the EPA on what makes water unsafe for humans.

USACE Water Safety. US Army Corps of Engineers.

Information on enjoying water safely. Promotion of the wearing of life jackets is emphasized (March 2018). "Life Jackets Worn…Nobody Mourns." Statistics such as it takes on average 60 seconds for an adult to drown (20 seconds for the average child) are included.

Water Safety (Recreational). MedlinePlus.

Information on staying safe when playing in or near water. Links off to other water safety information on other government sites such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


*"Recreational Uses of Water." UXL Encyclopedia of Water Science, edited by K. Lee Lerner, et al., vol. 2: Economics and Uses, UXL, 2005.

Water Safety

Travel (focus on international) Drinking Water Safety

Food and Water Safety. Travelers' Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Contaminated food or drinks can cause travelers’ diarrhea and other diseases. Travelers to developing countries are especially at risk. Reduce your risk by sticking to safe eating and drinking habits."  Provides Eat/Don't Eat Drink/Don't Drink advice. Infographics provide visual guides.


Non-Governmental Resources on Water Safety

Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality: Fourth Edition Incorporating the First Addendum. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2017. National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Title focuses on drinking-water quality, something that supports public health all over the world. Provides recommendations, guidance on good practice, and information applicable to all countries. 12 chapters, 7 annex.

Articles (non-governmental):

  • Giampaoli, Saverio, and Vincenzo Romano Spica. “Health and Safety in Recreational Waters.” Bulletin of the World Health Organization 92.2 (2014): 79.
  • Merkel, L., Bicking, C. & Sekhar, D. "Parents' Perceptions of Water Safety and Quality." Journal of Community Health (2012) 37: 195-201. (available to CSU affiliates)

Water and Health

Read about Human health and water* for a quick summary of the topic.

Drinking Water Contaminant Human Health Effects Information. United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Topics covered on the page are: Drinking Water Standards and Advisory Tables; Human Health Benchmarks for Pesticides; Human Health and Drinking Water Advisory Documents for Chemical Contaminants Regulatory Support Documents for Chemical Contaminants; Human Health and Drinking Water Advisory Documents for Microbial Contaminants; Fluoride Risk Assessment and Relative Source Contaminants.

Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFOA and PFOS. United States Environmental Protection Agency.

"To provide Americans, including the most sensitive populations, with a margin of protection from a lifetime of exposure to PFOA and PFOS from drinking water, EPA has established the health advisory levels at 70 parts per trillion."

Get the Facts: Drinking Water and Intake. CDC. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

"Drinking enough water every day is good for overall health." Overview and links to resources. Divided by adults and youth.


Healthy Water. CDC. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

"Clean and safe drinking water is critical to sustain human life and without it waterborne illness can be a serious problem."

Water & Nutrition. CDC. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Basics on the importance of water in promotion of human health.


*Kelley, Karen E., and Edward F. Vitzthum. "Human Health and Water." Water: Science and Issues, edited by E. Julius Dasch, vol. 2, Macmillan Reference USA, 2003, pp. 180-186.

Water Conservation

"Water conservation is the use and management of water for the good of all consumers. It is used in agriculture, industry, and the home."* CSU affiliates may read a selection of encyclopedia definitions of water conservation (UXL Encyclopedia of Water Science; The Gale Encyclopedia of Science; Environmental Encyclopedia; Environmental Science: In Context;) .

Careers in Water Conservation. James Hamilton. September 2013--Report 12. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Information about green jobs. The introduction has useful information about the supply of fresh water available (on Earth) and where it comes from. It then gives an overview of water conservation, those involved with water conservation, and how water is conserved. It then gives an overview of occupations that involve working with water divided by science, engineering, planning and outreach, construction, agriculture and grounds maintenance, and water operations. Credentials and wages are discussed for each category.


Drought Resilience and Water Conservation. EPA (Archive).

Information on water efficiency and aging infrastructure, aquifer recharge, water reuse, desalination, and more.

Land and Conservation. National Park Service.

"The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1964 to fulfill a bipartisan commitment to safeguard our natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans." Federal and State sides.

Resources - Water Conservation. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban.

This page links to resources that have information on water conservation. For example: Multifamily Housing Water Conservation Manual; Overview of Retrofit Strategies: A Guide for Apartment Owners and Managers; Residential Water Conservation Techniques; and others.

Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act (RCA). Natural Resources Conservation Service. United States Department of Agriculture.

"The Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act of 1977, as amended (RCA) provides the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) broad strategic assessment and planning authority for the conservation, protection, and enhancement of soil, water, and related natural resources." Technical and other resources on Conservation Planning, Ecological Sciences, and more.

Water (NRCS/USDA). Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Information about water (freshwater supply, agriculture use and runoff, etc.) and NRCS's role in assisting conservation practices and more.

Water Conservation at EPA. Environmental Protection Agency (Archive).

Information about amount of water used at the EPA and efforts to decrease this amount. Includes general information, such as "[w]ith at least 40 states anticipating water shortages by 2024, the need to conserve water is critical."

Water Conservation Tips for Residents. Region 1: EPA New England. EPA.

Tips apply to anyone who has indoor running water.

When Every Drop Counts: Protecting Public Health during Drought Conditions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency, and American Water Works Association.

"This publication is intended to assist public health officials, practitioners, and other stakeholders in their efforts to first understand and then prepare for drought in their communities. It provides information about how drought affects public health, recommends steps that can be taken to help mitigate the health effects of drought when preparing for or responding to drought conditions, identifies future needs for research and other drought related activities, and provides a list of helpful resources and tools."



Water Conservation [Denver]. City of Denver (Colorado).

Initiatives in the City of Denver for water conservation: daytime watering, conservation projects, and Denver Urban Waterways Restoration Study.

Many US states have online information on the topic of water conservation. Search the name of the state and "water conservation."


*Goings, David. "Water Conservation." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science, edited by K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, 5th ed., vol. 8, Gale, 2014, pp. 4650-4652

Water Rights


The topic of water rights has numerous perspectives. Read about some of them in these subject encyclopedias (CSU affiliates only):

Water Use and Rights:

  • Berkshire Encyclopedia of Sustainability. Ed. Sara G. Beavis, Michael L. Dougherty, and Tirso Gonzales. Vol. 8: The Americas and Oceania: Assessing Sustainability. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire, 2012. p324-332.

Water Rights--prior appropriation:

Water Law. Water Resources Division. National Park Service

Five basic functions of the Water Resources Division. See also Water Rights Branch. ("The Water Rights Program and Branch in the Water Resources Division was established in 1985 and provides staff expertise and resources to effectively address water-quantity and water-right issues for NPS units throughout the United States."

Statement for the Record on the Water Rights Act. U.S. Department of the Interior.

Department of the Interior response to a water rights document. Discussion draft May 18, 2017.

Congressional Activity

Congressional Publications. CSU affiliates only.

Bill, resolutions, and other documents that originate from the U.S. Congress. A search for water rights without quotation marks around the words brings up over 171,000 results. A search for "water rights" (i.e. the term in quotations marks) brings up over 19,500 items. Limit by date, Congress, document type, and more.

United States Congressional Serial Set. CSU affiliates only.

House and Senate Documents and House and Senate Reports. Subject related to water include:  Water and water supply; Public trust doctrine; Right of property; Littoral rights; Streamflow; Riparian rights; Irrigation; Rivers, creeks, streams, etc.; Water quality; Water districts; Saline water conversion; Water conservation; Waterworks; Drinking water; Water treatment plants; Groundwater and aquifers; Water utilities; Saltwater encroachment; Water consumption; Drainage districts; Reservoirs; Hydraulic engineering; Aqueducts; Dams; Water treatment plants; Water utilities; Wells; Springs; Dowsing; Artesian wells, Water table; Water conservation; Water-wheels.  A search for "water rights" in the Title (in quotation marks) brings up 50 items. "Water rights" as a topic brings up 625 items.

Water Rights Manual (7250). Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Water rights in the context of the BLM.

Water Rights

Water rights vary from place to place. The focus here will be on Colorado.



Colorado Water Conservation Board. Colorado's Water Plan. 2015. KFC2246 .C65 2015 Special

DWR Water Right - Transactions. Colorado Information Marketplace. Updated weekly.

"A Water Right is a property right that is either conditional or absolute and conveys the right to use a particular amount of water, with a specified priority date as confirmed by the water court. The Transaction List contains the the court decreed actions that affect amount and use(s) that can be used by each water right." Dataset as of March 15, 2018 has over 280,000 rows and 44 columns. Searchable. Columns include water right name, structure type, water source, and many others. Manage, more views, filter, visualize, export, and more.

Guide to Colorado Well Permits, Water Rights and Water Administration. September 2012. State of Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Division of Water Resources.

Describes types of wells and how to get a permit, along with related property water topics. Glossary of terms.

H.R.2939 - Water Rights Protection Act of 2017. 115th Congress (2017-2018).

Tabs to summary, text, actions, titles, more. See also S.1230.

Water Rights: Colorado Division of Water Resources. Department of Natural Resources.

The Water Rights Protection Act (H.R. 1830). Text of Water Rights Protection Act (in Congressional Publications, CSU affiliates only).

Text of bill introduced to the House of Representatives on 04/16/2015. Names of cosponsors. It subsequently was referred to a number of subcommittees. More recent activity in new/amended bill: H.R.2939 — 115th Congress (2017-2018) on 06/20/2017.

What Records Are Available to Water Researchers and Where Are They?” Water Records Consortium. Colorado State Archives.

Slides and recordings from 2014 online presentation. Where to find water research materials in Colorado. Includes CSU Libraries!



Citizen's Guide to Colorado Water Law. Colorado Foundation for Water Education. 2004.

36 page document describing the history of water rights in Colorado, basics of Colorado water law,  Water rights and decrees, Administering, managing, and regulating water, Interstate and Federal law, Colorado's water future, chronology, glossary of terms, and references.

International Water Law Project.

"[T]he mission of the International Water Law Project (IWLP) is to serve as the premier resource on the Internet for international water law and policy issues." Documents, case law, institutions, bibliography, useful links, and more.

Water Use

How We Use Water. WaterSense EPA (Archive).

Topics covered are:  The Water Around Us; Water in Daily Life; Understanding your Own Water Use; Commercial, Industrial, Agricultural & Electricity Water Use; Communities Face Challenges to Meet Demand; Droughts Create Stress; and Less Water Affects the Environment.


Water Use in the United States. USGS.

The U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Use Science Project is responsible for compiling and disseminating the nation's water-use data. Data for 1950-2010 by state, estimated use of water 2010 are available. 2015 data and report are in progress.


Water and Agriculture

Agriculture uses the majority of fresh water in the United States.


Agriculture (Climate). Chapter 6. National Climate Assessment.

Explore impacts on agriculture. "Production of all commodities will be vulnerable to direct impacts (from changes in crop and livestock development and yield due to changing climate conditions and extreme weather events) and indirect impacts (through increasing pressures from pests and pathogens that will benefit from a changing climate)." Charts, graphs, bibliography. 2014: Ch. 6: Agriculture. Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment, 150-174. doi:10.7930/J02Z13FR.

Agriculture Water: What is Agriculture Water? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sections on: What is agricultural water?; Why should I be concerned?; and Where does agricultural water come from?

Irrigation & Water Use. United States Department of Agriculture.

Discusses irrigation, its importance, where it is in the U.S., acres of irrigated land, crops produced with irrigation, trends and efficiency, investment in improvements.

Soil Moisture.

Crop moisture index, topsoil moisture monitoring, soil moisture, experimental surface water monitor for continetal U.S., soil climate analysis network, soil moisture changes, and more.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Water News. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

News from February 2012 onwards.


Water and Agriculture. United States Department of Agriculture.

Gives causes of poor water quality. Overview, definiton, questions, resources (legal, USDA, Agricultural law information partnership, and other), and multimedia.

Water and Agriculture Information Center (WAIC). USDA.

WAIC "provides electronic access to information on water and agriculture. The center collects, organizes, and communicates the scientific findings, educational methodologies, and public policy issues related to water and agriculture." Search the site.


Aquaculture: Fisheries. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA.

Overview, regulation & policy, science & technology, regional activities, international collaboration, and more.

Aquaculture Research Programs. USDA.

Research programs, data and statistics, market trends, monitoring, and resources.

Aquaculture Water Use. USGS.

Use by location (state) in the United States.


Farming in Water: News. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA.

"Aquaculture—the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of animals and plants in all types of water environments—is one of the most resource-efficient ways to produce animal protein and has helped improve nutrition and food security in many parts of the world. Learn how NOAA is a driving force in this rising industry." Click on story map and see aquaculture in motion.

Story Map: Farming in Water. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA. U.S. Departement of Commerce.

A bit of history on aquaculture and current activities. Production.


Hydroponics. Alternative Farming Systems Information Center. USDA. National Library of Medicine

"Hydroponics, or growing plants in a nutrient solution root medium, is a growing area of commercial food production and also is used for home food production by hobbyists. Learn about the state-of-the-art techniques for producing food in a controlled, soilless setting." Link to sites and documents on the topic.

Hydroponics: A Better Way to Grow Food. National Park Service.

Benefits, types, how to incorporate into concession food operations, and more.

Hydroponics Article:


Agriculture (Colorado). Colorado Water Plan.

The plan is "a foundation for Colorado to honor the State’s core water values."

Water--Power from

Using water for power has a long history. "Power for Technology: Water"* gives examples from the medieval time period.


5 Promising Water Power Technologies. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. June 26, 2017.

Overview of these new technologies.

Water Energy: A Student's Guide to Global Climate Change. Archived page.

Defines three different types of water power--hydroelectric, wave power, tidal power. Diagram of a hydroelectric dam.

Water Power Technologies Office. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

"The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Water Power Program is committed to developing and deploying a portfolio of innovative technologies for clean, domestic power generation from resources such as hydropower, waves, and tides." Learn about hydropower and marine & hydroknetic power. "Marine and hydrokinetic technologies capture energy from oceans and rivers—including waves, tides, ocean currents, free-flowing rivers, streams, and ocean thermal gradients—to generate electricity."


*"Power for Technology: Water." World Eras, edited by Jeremiah Hackett, vol. 4: Medieval Europe, 814-1350, Gale, 2002, pp. 452-454. (CSU affiliates only)

Water--City Utilities, State Plans (examples)


Colorado's Water Plan.

The plan, delivered in November 2015, was "developed in order to ensure the state’s most valuable resource is protected and available for generations to come." "Governor Hickenlooper issued a proclamation declaring November 16 as Colorado's Water Implementation Day." Click on The Plan to read it (entire, executive summary, or by chapter).

Boulder Water Utilities Division. City of Boulder Colorado.

Covers "Water, Wastewater, Stormwater, and Flood Management." Drinking water has multiple sections. Water education has information on the history of water in Boulder (beginning in 1859) as well as other topics.

Denver Water. Denver, Colorado

Sections at top of page as of late Nov. 2016 are: Water Service & Support; Billing & Rates; Conservation; Water Quality; Supply & Planning; Recreation:Construction Projects; and Education & Outreach. Foot of page includes Operating Rules and Engineering Standards.

Water. Fort Collins Utilities. Fort Collins, Colorado.

Information on water quality, treatment, supply & demand, distribution, drought, and more.


Other States:

California Water Action Plan: 2016 Update. PDF.

The first page of text starts with a statement from Governor Edumund G. Grown Jr. from January 22, 2014: "Among all our uncertainties, weather is one of the most basic. We can’t control it. We can only live with it, and now we have to live with a very serious drought of uncertain duration." [Continues.] January 5, 2015: "We are finally grappling with the long-term sustainability of our water supply through the recently passed Proposition 1 and our California Water Action Plan." California's water matters to many people outside of the state because it is the place where a large number of food crops are grown.

Water (TX). Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Topics include: drinking water; surface water rights and availability; water quality in rivers, lakes and estuaries; wastewater and stormwater; and groundwater and wells.

Colorado Water

USGS Current Water Data for Colorado. USGS.

Daily streamflow conditions for Colorado stations with at least 30 years of record. Build a custom table, see Colorado streamflow, precipitation, groundwater, lakes and reservoir, water-quality, and meteorological tables, daily stage, streamflow, and stage & streamflow.

Water and Growth. Amy Zimmer. Colorado State Publications Library (blog entry 6-27-2018):

Colorado Water Plan (2015). The nearly 600-page document discusses the supply and demand challenges for each of Colorado's seven basins and how the state is planning to address future need.

Here are some other helpful publications that address the issues of water supply and population growth in the Front Range:

Water Information and Data and Water Quality:

Colorado Specific

Water Resources--Bureau of Reclamation

Water Resources--EPA

Dams, Reservoirs, Projects--Army Corps of Engineers

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