Date of Award

Summer 7-22-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Deserai Anderson Crow

Second Advisor

Katherine Dickinson

Third Advisor

Douglas Kenney


Managing water in a way that maintains human welfare and meets the demands of surrounding ecosystems involves a variety of stakeholders, diverse sets of values and, subsequently, a wide range of competing uses. Since the early 1970s, instream flow uses, or water intentionally kept in a stream for the purpose of preserving or improving the natural environment of that stream, have become an increasing part of the conversation about water allocation in the West. The management of Colorado water involves numerous values and interests, many of which are in direct conflict to each other. As such, it is often difficult to translate those competing interests into a real world management regime in which all values are represented. Collaborative management, a process of identifying and developing general programs, specific projects, and the subsequent institutional structures to implement those projects in the real world (Gerlach, 1995), offers a flexible, holistic, and balanced approach to water management and is particularly useful when considering instream flow protection in Colorado. The goal of the following analysis is to better understand the institutional arrangements that surround the implementation of Colorado’s ISF Program in order to better explain whether the role of collaborative management in Colorado water governance has been and will be a successful approach to protecting ISF in Colorado.