In 1966, the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District was formed to provide legal authority to plan and construct water conservation projects in the Yampa River Basin, which led to the construction of Yamcolo Reservoir, located in the Flattops near the headwaters of the Yampa River, in 1980 and Stagecoach Reservoir, located southeast of Steamboat Springs, in 1980.

The Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District owns and operates both Yamcolo and Stagecoach Reservoirs. The reservoirs, designed to provide reliable sources of water for the growing population and economy of Northwest Colorado, capture snowmelt that serves as a year-round water supply for agricultural, industrial, municipal, and other beneficial uses, including hydropower generation at John R. Fetcher Hydroelectric Power Plant, an 800kW hydroelectric power plant at Stagecoach Dam.

In addition to safely maintaining and operating District-owned facilities, the District promotes healthy reservoirs, streams, and watersheds within the District. In 2012, the District partnered with the Colorado Water Trust to coordinate the first environmental water release out of Stagecoach Reservoir. As part of its maintenance and operation, the District also closely adjusts and monitors the temperature and oxygen content of its releases to ensure a healthy habitat for trout and other aquatic life downstream, a contribution to both the environment and recreational opportunities on the Yampa River.

In collaboration with various agencies, the District supports water quality efforts and participates in working groups to address issues that may affect water quantity in the future. The District monitors issues throughout the Colorado River Basin in an effort to protect the water resources of the Upper Yampa Basin and plan for potential water shortages.
The District is committed to an Upper Yampa River Basin with safe, secure water storage and supply that benefits all uses in the Basin.

Mission statement

To lead water resource management within the District’s boundaries by responsibly conserving, protecting, developing, providing and enhancing the water resources of the Upper Yampa River Basin for the benefit of the Basin.

Vision Statement

An Upper Yampa River Basin with safe, secure water storage and supply for its customers that benefits all uses in the Basin.

Governing Board of Directors

The District is governed by a board of nine directors.
Directors from three divisions are appointed by the District Judge to serve staggered four-year terms and establish policy and strategic direction for the District.