Water challenges are complex.

Water-related issues are often characterized by a lack of trust, poor communication, polarization, and ineffective negotiations. However, effective facilitation and outreach can turn these challenges into opportunities for meaningful, innovative solutions.

We bring a process-oriented perspective–a neutral intervention in an era of partisanship around water, climatic, and environmental issues.

We provide collaborative problem-solving expertise in planning,  governance, conservation, and use of water. CDR is a leader in facilitating multi-party agreements: we use process as a bridge for competing interests to find win-win solutions.


Where we add value in water resources projects: 

  • Transboundary and interagency coordination: facilitating complex jurisdictional management and decision-making 
  • Adaptive management: facilitation of stakeholder-led strategies for adaptation and resiliency in managing resources 
  • Stakeholder-based watershed planning: inclusive, collaborative stakeholder engagement that ties stakeholder inputs to decision outcomes
  • Facilitated decision making: collaborative planning, decision-making processes, assisted negotiations, and mediation of impasses involving complex water issues and highly diverse stakeholders 
  • Development of formal settlement and institutional agreements: such as contracts, compacts, and systems to ensure long-term, sustainable, and adaptable agreements
  • Innovative solutions: supporting win-win solutions that provide for stakeholder interests within the legal and institutional frameworks that govern water 

Examples of our water work: 

  1. Alternative Transfer Methods Agricultural-to-Municipal Water Transfers
    CDR facilitates stakeholder engagement around the stewardship of 18,000 acres, whose water rights changed from agricultural to municipal use under a 1998 Colorado Water Court decree. This project determines a shared vision for the best, future use of the properties in a way that meets the needs of the communities, municipality, and the next generation of land and water users. The water use transfer has impacts and implications for the livelihood of the land tenants; taxation for the counties; the future water users; and the future property uses. The stewardship plan is a future-oriented approach to managing the next 40 years of water use transfers. This project is working to collaboratively determine a shared vision for the best, future use of these properties – one that is founded on the needs of the municipality, the environment, and the neighboring communities.
  2. Crystal River Stream Management Plan
    CDR facilitated stakeholder groups to develop components of the Crystal River Stream Management Plan. The stakeholder group explored issues on the Crystal and identified management actions to address. The goal of the effort was to collaboratively develop approaches that respected local agricultural practices and traditions, preserved existing uses, and enhanced the ecological integrity of the river.
  3. Black Canyon of the Gunnison Federal Reserved Water Rights Mediation
    CDR mediated the settlement negotiations concerning Federal Reserved Water Rights for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and needs of other Federal, state and water interests. After conducting a situation assessment, CDR designed a process and mediated a settlement to provide adequate flows on the Gunnison River to meet Federal Reserved Water Rights for Park purposes, power generation, and agricultural interests. Parties included the U.S. Department of Interior, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, and Western Power Administration, the State of Colorado, and various Colorado water conservation districts and conservationists. The Stipulated settlement agreement was to be presented to and approved by the State of Colorado water court.

Learn more:

Emily Zmak
Water Resources Practice Lead
ezmak@mediate.org