Colorado Water Center

A Unit of the Office of Engagement and Extension

Leading the Nation’s Water Research Since 1965

For nearly six decades, The Colorado Water Center has served the greater Colorado community to lead interdisciplinary research, education, and engagement to address today’s most pressing water issues in Colorado and beyond, and connect diverse water stakeholders to resources and expertise.

The Colorado Water Center is one of 54 Water Resources Research Institutes created by the Water Resources Act of 1964, which collectively form the National Institutes for Water Resources.

Colorado Water Center’s History

Colorado State University can trace its commitment to water to 1883 when Professor Elwood Mead – the man for whom Lake Mead is named – arrived on campus and formulated plans to teach irrigation engineering. Since then, CSU’s reputation as a leader in water research has continued to grow. Other notable moments in our water history include:

The Colorado Water Center (CoWC)

Formerly the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute and then the Colorado Water Institute was established in 1965. CoWC facilitates interdisciplinary study and research with Colorado’s institutions of higher education.

CSU’s Watershed Science Program

The Watershed Science Program was established in 1958, making it the first-degree program in the nation to train students in this area of study.

CSU’s International Water Program

CSU launched its international water program in the 1950s, establishing graduate-level water programs at Pakistan’s University of Peshawar. By 1959, CSU had worked to form what is now known as the Asian Institute of Technology.

Maury Albertson

Maury Albertson joined the CSU civil engineering faculty in 1947. Albertson went on to help draft the plan that became the basis for the Peace Corps, which has aided hundreds of water projects around the world.

Ralph Parshall

Ralph Parshall, irrigation engineer, developed the Parshall Flume in 1922. Still in wide use today, the Parshall Flume helps regulate water flow and promotes equitable distribution.

Hydraulics Laboratory

The USDA established the first hydraulics laboratory on campus in 1912. The lab was used to study and test plans for the Hoover, Grand Coulee, and Imperial dams, along with other dams around the world.