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Papers of Hal D. Simpson

Identifier: WHDS

Scope and Contents

The Papers of Hal D. Simpson consists of documents dated 1941 to 2007, with the bulk falling from 1970 to 2007. Topics covered include water policy and water law, water administration, water quality, and groundwater. Geographical locations covered include the Arkansas, Colorado, Rio Grande, and South Platte rivers, among others. The collection includes calendars, court documents, meeting agendas and minutes, conference and workshop materials, memos and letters, and Simpson's notes. The collection also includes a number of technical reports and publications.


  • Creation: 1941-2007
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1970-2007


Restrictions on Access

One item in Series 5 is confidential and closed to public access. All other "confidential" markings have been determined to be for administrative purposes, not national security information; therefore, these materials are open for access. However, the collection is stored off-site, so advance notice is required.

Restrictions on Use

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


Harold (Hal) D. Simpson (b. 1945) has worked in water resources for over fifty years. Simpson was Colorado State Engineer from 1992 to 2007, during which time he oversaw the Division of Water Resources (DWR). He has also given expert testimony in legal cases pertaining to water rights, interstate compacts, and related areas. He has written on water administration, water policy and law, groundwater, water quality, water history, and other subjects.

Hal D. Simpson was born in Greeley, Colorado, in 1945. He lived in Severance until his father, Theodore Simpson, died in 1951 from kidney disease caused by being treated for pneumonia with sulfa drugs while in the Army in 1942. His mother, Leah (Grauberger), married Arthur Hoffman, a Kansas wheat farmer, in 1952 and the family moved to Hazelton, Kansas. Simpson worked on the farm and attended Hazelton schools. He enjoyed sports and lettered in all sports played at school. He graduated from high school in 1963 and enrolled at Colorado State University the same year.

Simpson earned a Bachelor of Science (1967) and Master of Science (1969), both in civil engineering, from CSU. He completed additional post-graduate work in water resources at CSU and the University of Colorado. Simpson also met his wife, Carol, at CSU, and they married in 1965. Carol graduated from CSU with a Bachelor of Science in microbiology in 1967. They have three children: Kelly, Holly, and Mark. All three graduated from CSU, which greatly pleased their parents.

Simpson was drafted into the Army in 1968 while in graduate school, and he enlisted in the Officers Candidate School program so he could control the date when he entered active duty and utilize his engineering degrees. He received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1969 in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and served with the Omaha District of the COE in Colorado Springs from 1970 to 1972 supervising civilian contractors at Fort Carson and the Air Force Academy.

Simpson worked in Colorado's Division of Water Resources from 1972 to 2007. He was Deputy State Engineer from 1985 to 1992 and State Engineer from 1992 to 2007. DWR administers water rights, issues permits for groundwater use and well construction, disburses water, collects and disseminates data on water use and streamflow, and conducts studies on water resources and supply for the State of Colorado. The State Engineer, in addition to managing the Division, also serves as Executive Director of the Colorado Ground Water Commission, Secretary of the Board of Examiners for Water Well and Pump Installation Contractors, and Colorado's commissioner on five interstate compacts (and is responsible for the administration of all nine of Colorado's interstate river compacts).

Simpson has consulted on multiple legal cases pertaining to water. He was lead negotiator for Colorado in a settlement in the Kansas v. Nebraska and Colorado No. 26 Original case involving the Republican River Compact. He also testified multiple times in the Kansas v. Colorado No. 105 Original case (Arkansas River Compact), serving as an expert witness on behalf of the state of Colorado, testifying on Colorado's compact compliance efforts, and preparing expert reports on compact compliance in the case in 2000 and 2002.

Simpson has written on subjects such as water administration, water rights, and water policy. He has authored reports, papers, and presentations on water compact enforcement, water administration, and water history. He also contributed a chapter about his time as State Engineer to the 2013 book Water, Colorado's Real Gold by Richard Stenzel and Tom Cech.

Simpson was recognized as the CSU College of Engineering Honor Alumnus in 2000. He served as council chairman of the Western States Water Council from 2004 to 2006. He was also the president of the Association of Western State Engineers in 2006. In 2011, Simpson was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the Federal Chairman of the Rio Grande Compact Commission. He went on to serve under three presidents as Federal Chairman: Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joseph Biden. Since retiring in 2007, Simpson has worked as a consulting engineer in water resources management.

(Note: Simpson contributed to this biography.)


12 linear feet (8 record cartons)

Language of Materials



Hal D. Simpson (b. 1945) worked in the Colorado Division of Water Resources (DWR) for 34 years, serving as State Engineer from 1992 to 2007. This collection includes materials from Simpson’s time with the Division of Water Resources; meeting agendas, notes, and other materials from his time on the Western States Water Council, particularly from his time as Council Chairman from 2004 to 2006; papers and presentations authored by Simpson; his calendars; and reference materials, comprised largely of technical reports and publications, on a variety of water topics and regions/bodies of water. Topics covered include water policy and water law, water compact compliance and administration, water quality, and groundwater. Geographical locations covered include the Arkansas, Colorado, Rio Grande, and South Platte rivers.


The materials in the collection have been arranged into series primarily by material type. Subseries, categories, and sub-categories were created as necessary for additional clarity.

The collection consists of 5 series in 8 boxes:

Series 1: Personal materials, 1974-2006

Series 2: Writings by Simpson, 1982-2007 and undated

Series 3: Division of Water Resources, 1984-2006 and undated

Subseries 3.1: DWR meetings, 1992-2006

Subseries 3.2: DWR documents, 1984-2005 and undated

Subseries 3.3: Conferences, 1986-2004

Subseries 3.4: Kansas v. Colorado, 1996-2005

Series 4: Western States Water Council, 1992-2006 and undated

Subseries 4.1: WSWC meetings, 2000-2006

Subseries 4.2: WSWC documents, 1992-2006 and undated

Series 5: Reference materials, 1941-2007 and undated


The Papers of Hal D. Simpson was donated by Hal D. Simpson in November 2021.

Related Collections

Other related collections held by the Water Resources Archive include the Records of the Colorado Division of Water Resources and the Papers of Robert A. Longenbaugh, who worked as assistant state engineer of Colorado from 1980 to 1991.


Processing was completed in August 2022. Processing involved removing metal fasteners, rubber bands, pocket folders, and binders. Plastic clips were used where needed. Photographs were separated and placed in sleeves. All materials were rehoused in acid-free containers. Exact duplicates beyond two copies were removed. Confidential materials not cleared to be opened were removed. Publications not authored by Simpson and easily accessible elsewhere, such as government publications, were removed.

Inventory Note

Title information supplied by the archivist is bracketed. Estimated pagination is preceded by an "e." Two identical copies of the same item are noted in the notes portion of the inventory.

Guide to the Papers of Hal D. Simpson
Prepared by Lauren Oliver
Copyright 2022
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA