An instream flow is a specific type of water right, as recognized by Colorado law.

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Whereas most Colorado water rights involve uses that divert water from the stream, an instream flow allows water to remain in a stream to help protect the natural environment. The only entity that can legally hold such a right is the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB).

How is the City of Boulder involved?

The city has donated several water rights in Boulder Creek and its tributaries to the CWCB for instream flow purposes.

The city's agreements with the CWCB allow the city to administer and monitor Boulder Creek and its tributaries and to ask for more water if streamflows drop below specific levels.

How does the city monitor instream flows?

A pressure transducer system is installed by Boulder Creek near Broadway and assists with the city's efforts to monitor and maintain instream flows. This device records the daily streamflow at this point in Boulder Creek. The city will contact the CWCB if flows drop below the legal limits.