Here’s a shout out for Amy Beatie and the Colorado Water Trust, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:
Since state laws differ, trusts in other states operate under slightly different rules. In Colorado, a 1973 change in water law made the CWCB the only agency that could hold an in-stream water right or a right solely to maintain lake levels. Other water rights must be put to a beneficial use like municipal, industrial or agricultural rights. The state can do that by appropriating water, acquiring existing water rights or adopting policies that protect flows. New rights appropriated by the state are junior to most other rights on a stream. Flow protection usually requires court decrees to prevent injury to other rights.
Acquiring rights would yield the best results, but the problem in the past is that valuable senior water rights had to be donated to the state, without compensation, [Colorado Water Trust Director Amy Beattie] said. The trust acquires some rights, although its revenue sources are limited to grants or donations. It also works with land trusts or other conservation agencies to incorporate water rights into planning, Beattie said. “The Colorado Water Trust acts as a broker. It pays for rights to be donated,” she said Last year, the state Legislature set up two CWCB funds as a way to acquire senior rights. One is a $1 million appropriation for general water rights. Another $500,000 was set aside specially in a species conservation trust fund. “We collaborate with the CWCB,” Beattie said. “We pull from a whole menu of approaches to fix critically water-short stream reaches.”
More conservation easement coverage here.