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Records of the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute

Identifier: WRRI

Scope and Contents

The Records of the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute consists of documents dated 1949 to 2007, with the bulk falling from 1965 to 2000. The materials include project files created by researchers and overseen by CWRRI, information related to conferences, committees, and commissions, internal business files maintained by CWRRI directors, various photographs and slide presentations, and the Institute's reference library. The numerous project files cover such topics as pollution and abatement, irrigation efficiency, groundwater, river data, storage, and urban water issues generated by CWRRI alone or in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency, CSU Experiment Station, and the federal Office of Water Research and Technology, which allotted grant money to water resources research institutes. Conference, committee, and commission files contain agendas, correspondence, meeting minutes, notes, and reports from various water-related institutions including the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission, CSU's water coordination group, and the federal grant-funding committees overseeing CWRRI, among others. CWRRI internal files include long range plans, periodic reviews of the program, miscellaneous reports produced by the organization or its directors, planning notes for the creation of the Water Resources Archive, and information files for numerous state and federal organizations. Also included are a few slide presentations as well as photographs primarily taken for CWRRI newsletter articles or reports, typically depicting water conferences or events. The reference library materials are mostly publications and primarily concern state watersheds and water education.


  • Creation: 1949-2007
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1965-1985


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


The Colorado Water Resources Research Institute (now the Colorado Water Institute) was created in 1965 on the Colorado State University campus to oversee water research and disseminate new information to citizens. In 1964, Congress passed the Water Resources Research Act to better coordinate the nation's water research programs at a time when water management, especially in the West, was challenged by increasing agricultural, municipal and industrial use. The legislation was based on the Hatch Act of 1887 which established the state agricultural experiment station system and, like the experiment stations, the new water research institutes were also financed by federal and state funds. Water research institutes were organized at the nation's land grant colleges.

Universities were enthusiastic about the new program and William E. Morgan, president of Colorado A and M (now Colorado State University) and chairman of the Water Resources Committee of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, played an important role in the passage of the WRR Act. CSU had long been a leader in the West in water and agricultural research and engineering and was an ideal choice for the location of the new research institute. In the early 1880s, the college offered the earliest courses in irrigation engineering in the United States and soon established a Department of Physics and Engineering to further focus on irrigation. In 1912, a hydraulics laboratory was constructed on campus where numerous experiments were conducted by several distinguished scholars. Advancements in irrigation and other water-related matters were disseminated from the college throughout Colorado and the West.

The Colorado Water Resources Research Institute (CWRRI) was initially established as a division within CSU's newly created Natural Resources Center (NRC), where university faculty coordinated federal, state and university research in natural resources as authorized by the State Board of Agriculture. The name of the Natural Resources Center changed by 1970 to the Environmental Resources Center (ERC); however, CWRRI functions remained the primary focus of the center. In 1974, the ERC, and therefore CWRRI, was affiliated with the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station at CSU. In 1978-1979, CWRRI was separated from the ERC and the Experiment Station and made a separate agency on the CSU campus. The Colorado General Assembly officially recognized this division in 1981. In 2008, Colorado legislators approved HB08-1026, which changed the name of the CWRRI to the Colorado Water Institute (CWI) and updated and expanded its mission. Since 1965, five people have served as director of the CWRRI: Stephen C. Smith (1965-1967), Norman A. Evans (1967-1988), Neil S. Grigg (1988-1991), Robert C. Ward (1991-2006), and Reagan Waskom (2006-present).

Until the early 1980s, CWRRI was typically known within its own organizational files in this collection as the ERC. Throughout the collection, NRC, ERC and CWRRI alternately appear on material although they refer to the same organization. Because most references are to the ERC and little material is identified as CWRRI, the acronym ERC/CWRRI was used in the finding aid inventory although file folder titles and material in the folders reference one name or the other.

The water resources research program that created CWRRI was originally overseen by the Office of Water Resources Research (OWRR), later renamed the Office of Water Research and Technology (OWRT), both part of the Department of the Interior. After passage of a new Water Resources Research Act in 1984, the program was reassigned to the Water Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey and was authorized by Colorado's legislature to operate as an official entity of Colorado State University. The institute receives an annual base grant and competitively bids for grant money distributed by the USGS among regional and state water resources research institutes.

Despite the various changes CWRRI has undergone over the years, its mission has remained largely the same. CWRRI identifies and prioritizes water problems for research, plans and manages research projects in the state's universities, disseminates new technology and information, and acts as a liaison between the state and the federal departments that administer research funding. CWRRI regularly publishes reports, conference proceedings, and other educational materials in order to make current water knowledge readily available to Colorado citizens.


95 linear feet (61 record cartons, 3 document boxes, 7 flat boxes)

Language of Materials



Colorado State University has long been a leader in the West in water research and engineering. The University was a logical choice to oversee the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute (CWRRI) when, in 1964, Congress passed the Water Resources Research Act to better coordinate the nation's water research programs. The mission of CWRRI on the CSU campus was to bring water concerns and problems to the attention of water experts in higher education, facilitate research into these issues and disseminate new information to all water users. Most of the collection consists of the organizational files of CWRRI directors, Norman A. Evans, Neil S. Grigg, and Robert C. Ward. Materials include working files related to the many research projects and proposals generated by the program and information related to various water-related conferences, committees, and commissions. In addition, there are CWRRI internal files with long-range plans, program reviews, and reports produced by the organization or its directors. Slide presentations, photographs, and documents from the CWRRI reference library are also present. A portion of the collection is digitized and online.


The materials in the collection's first accession were completely rearranged, as they arrived in disorder. They were grouped into series according to topic (projects, committees or internal business) and further divided into subseries if needed to facilitate research. Materials in subsequent accessions were also rearranged, with the exception of Subseries 3.2, where original filing order was maintained.

The collection consists of 5 series in 71 boxes:

Series 1: Projects and proposals, 1949-2003

Subseries 1.1: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1972-1981

Subseries 1.2: Environmental Protection Agency, 1979-1998

Subseries 1.3: ERC/CWRRI, 1969-2003

Subseries 1.4: Colorado State University Experiment Station, 1951-1985

Subseries 1.5: Legislative Council, 1978-1981

Subseries 1.6: Miscellaneous projects, 1949-1998

Subseries 1.7: Office of Water Resources Research/Office of Water Research and Technology, 1964-1984

Series 2: Conferences, committees, and commissions, 1949-2005

Subseries 2.1: General files, 1949-2005

Subseries 2.2: Meetings, conferences, and seminars, 1965-2005

Subseries 2.3: Water Pollution Control Commission/Water Quality Control Commission, 1965-1998

Series 3: ERC/CWRRI internal files and miscellaneous reports, 1961-2007

Subseries 3.1: Internal files, 1961-2007

Subseries 3.2: Government agencies, 1967-2003

Series 4: Visual materials, 1968-2000 and undated

Subseries 4.1: Separated photographs, 1968-1982 and undated

Subseries 4.2: Collected photographs and negatives, 1970-2000 and undated

Subseries 4.3: Slides, 1976-1996 and undated

Series 5: Reference materials, 1936-2004


The Records of the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute was acquired by the Colorado Agricultural Archives in 1990 and transferred to the Water Resources Archive in 2001. An accession of photographic materials (2006044) was received in 2006 from the Institute. The CWRRI donated six more accessions comprised of internal, project, committee, and reference library materials between 2005 and 2009 (2005014, 2006024, 2009021, 2009029, 2009031, 2009033).

Online Materials

Some documents, data, and maps have been scanned and are available through the Colorado State University Libraries website. In this finding aid, some of these direct links appear in context. A link to the full online collection appears in the abstract.

Related Collections

Related materials in the Water Resources Archive that may assist researchers interested in the Records of the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute include the Papers of Morton W. Bittinger, a professor of Civil Engineering at Colorado State University from 1957 to 1967 specializing in groundwater research; the Papers of Whitney M. Borland, a civil engineer who conducted sedimentation experiments for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Colorado State University hydraulics laboratory; the Groundwater Data Collection for related groundwater research at CSU, especially the research of Robert Longenbaugh and others who also researched for CWRRI; the Papers of Daryl B. Simons, professor of Civil Engineering at CSU, whose name appears on some of the projects in the CWRRI collection; the Water Oral Histories Collection, which contains a 1988 interview with long-time CWRRI director Norman A. Evans; and the Papers of Frederic A. "Eric" Eidsness, Jr., Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water at the Environmental Protection Agency in the early 1980s, whose research involved water quality and toxics in municipal wastewater treatment plants and may correlate to some EPA and general pollution research in this collection.


Acronyms were deciphered by examining the contents of the files and by notes provided by former CWRRI secretary, Shirley Miller.

A&O - Associations and organizations

AAAS - American Association for the Advancement of Science

ACP - Annual Cooperative Program (allotment projects (AP) were sometimes funded by the ACP, also called the State Water Institute Program Grants)

AI - Allotment information

AP - Allotment proposal/project

AR - Annual report

ARC - Annual Research Conference (also called Annual Water Research Progress Review Annual Water Resources Research Conference and Annual Conference on Water Research)

ASAE - American Society of Agricultural Engineers

ASCE - American Society of Civil Engineers

ASEE - American Society for Engineering Education

AWRA - American Water Resources Association

BP - Basin planning

CCHE - Colorado Commission on Higher Education (sometimes funded by the federal Office of Water Research and Technology)

CERI - Colorado Energy Research Institute

CH - Case histories

CID - Consortium of International Development

COE - [U.S. Army] Corps of Engineers

COSC - Colorado Open Space Council

CWC - Colorado Water Congress

CWIC - Consortium of Water Institutes and Centers (regional organization of seven Colorado River basin states-Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming-also called the Powell Consortium, part of the federal Office of Water Research and Technology)

CWRRI - Colorado Water Resources Research Institute

EPA - Environmental Protection Agency

ERC - Environmental Resources Center

ERDA - Energy Research and Development Administration

Exp St. - Colorado State University Experiment Station

FP - Fellowship (COE fellowship program)

GA - General assembly

GAF - Government Agency: Federal

GAS - Government Agency: State

GW - Groundwater

GWSTF - Ground Water Standards Task Force (part of WPCC/WQCC)

IIASA - International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

ICWP - Interstate Conference on Water Problems

IFG - Instream Flow Group (part of OWRT)

IPAC - International Projects Advisory Committee

IT - Information Transfer Program

IWRA - International Water Resources Association

LC - Legislative Council (Colorado)

LTD - Land Treatment and Disposal

MBSA - Missouri Basin States Association

MCS - Meetings, conferences, and seminars

MI - Matching information

MP - Matching proposals/projects

MPC - Matching proposal completion reports

MRBWIC - Missouri River Basin Water Institute Consortium

NASULGC - National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges

NAWQA - National Water Quality Assessment Program

NCWCD - Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District

NSF - National Science Foundation

NWCOG - Northwest Colorado Council of Governments

NWRA - National Water Resources Association

OIP - Office of International Programs

OPJ - Other projects

OTA - Office of Technical Assessment (federal)

OWRR - Office of Water Resources Research (name changed to Office of Water Resources and Technology)

OWRT - Office of Water Research and Technology

PAC - Policy Advisory Council

PP - Proposals

PSIAC - Pacific Southwest Inter-Agency Commission

RD - River Data

RMI - Research Management Improvement Grants

RP - Regional project

RPAC - Research Planning Advisory Committee

SEWCD - Southeast Colorado Water Conservancy

SWIP - State Water Institutes Program

TAC - Technical Advisory Committee (oversaw grant process between CSU and federal Office of Water Research and Technology)

TI - Title I grants projects

TII - Title II grant projects

TT - Technical transfer

UCOWR - Universities Council on Water Resources

USBR - U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

USCID - U.S. Committee on Irrigation and Drainage

USDA - U.S. Department of Agriculture

USDI - U.S. Department of the Interior

USGS - U.S. Geological Survey

WC - Water coordination (of CSU water interests)

WPCC - Water Pollution Control Commission (name changed to WQCC)

WQCC - Water Quality Control Commission

WR - Water Resources Committee (oversaw grant process, along with TAC, between CSU and federal Office of Water Research and Technology)

WRC - Western [Water] Resources Conference

WRR - Western regional research project (regional project by several western states and the USDA in conjunction with state experiment station project 227 related to water conservation)

WRRP - Western regional research projects (state and federal joint project)

WRSIC - Water resources scientific information centers

WSWRC - Western Soil and Water Research Committee


Some initial processing was completed by John Newman in 2002. In 2004, the majority of metal fasteners were removed and replaced with plastic clips as needed. All rubber bands and self-stick notes were removed. When Social Security numbers were found, they were blacked out, the pages were then photocopied, and the originals destroyed. Newspaper clippings were inserted between sheets of acid-free paper. Duplicates of material were not retained past the second copy. All materials were inserted in acid-free folders and reboxed. Photographs not associated or attached to specific reports were removed, placed in separate files, and cross-referenced to their original location. Drawings and transparencies were retained in their original file folders and noted in the finding aid. All files were rearranged within each series and subseries alphabetically followed by any files that began with dates or numbers listed numerically. Original folder titles were copied exactly onto new folders and an extensive effort was made to decipher these titles as they contained multiple acronyms, often used inconsistently, which revealed little about the folder contents to those unfamiliar with the filing system. Acronyms are spelled out in brackets within the finding aid inventory the first time they appear. After the first acronym is used, if subsequent files started with the same, the acronym was left off and the file name was indented under the first entry. The N, GAS, GAF and A&O acronyms were removed completely from the finding aid as they revealed little about file folder contents (see acronym listing for explanation). Enough information was retained in the finding aid so researchers can locate a file that has a slightly different, usually longer title on the file folder. All acronyms originally used are explained in an alphabetical listing in this finding aid. Series descriptions contain additional information regarding the use of acronyms. When the collection was first acquired by the Colorado Agricultural Archives, several boxes of professional books and journals considered widely available to the public were weeded out. Printer's copies of published CWRRI reports, including Technical Reports, Completion Reports and Information Series, were weeded in later processing. Bound copies of such reports found in the files were not retained but were sent through the normal library selection process to be added to the university publications section of the Archives and Special Collections Department or the main stacks.

Processing of the photographic materials accession (2006044) was completed in May 2013. Slides, photographs, and negatives were sleeved, arranged into a useable order, and housed in acid-free boxes. Low-quality photographs, duplicates beyond two copies, and images of unidentifiable locations were all discarded. Publication proofs which were part of the accession were also discarded.

Processing of accessions 2005014, 2006024, 2009021, 2009029, 2009031, and 2009033 was finished in July 2013. Duplicate items were weeded. Financial files from the 2002 drought conference and materials donated as part of the reference library that did not directly relate to CWRRI projects and interests (especially photocopies of publications) were also weeded. Materials were rehoused in acid-free folders and boxes. Digital media were placed in protective cases. Rubber bands, sticky notes, and paper clips were discarded. Several reports were removed from three-ring binders. Generally, materials were integrated into the existing series organization, though Subseries 3.2: Government agencies and Series 5: Reference materials were added.

Inventory Note

Note: Title information supplied by the archivist is bracketed. Estimated pagination is preceded by an "e." Two identical copies of the same item are indicated by the phrase "2 copies" at the end of the entry, following the number of pages of each copy. Authored articles, books, and studies are listed in bibliographic form.

Guide to the Records of the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Rose Laflin; revised by Alan E. Barkley, Patricia J. Rettig, and Clarissa J. Trapp
Copyright 2013
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA