Water is the “lifeblood” of the San Luis Valley

It impacts every aspect of the people and communities here. Water literally connects the ecosystem to our economy and communities and the identity and heritage of the people to the future viability of the San Luis Valley, Colorado and the West! Join us for the new courses being offered through the Water Studies Minor and for special water focused field trips and learning experiences beyond the classroom!

Classes are also available to community members through Adams State Continuing Education:


Water is essential to life, land, economies and communities in the West. People who care about viability and sustainability of water can benefit from deeper knowledge about how water works, how it’s managed, and how to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.  Adams State students and community members can increase their water literacy and engage in the dynamic water education courses and field opportunities being offered through the Water Education Initiative programs and the new Water Studies Minor Degree.

The Water Studies Minor provides interdisciplinary courses for students in a wide range of degree programs. Enhanced knowledge of water in the West will prepare students and professionals in many fields for diverse career paths, more effective civic engagement and active participation in a more sustainable future.

Knowledge of water is vital for everyone, and especially for those who live and work in the West. An understanding of hydrology and watershed health as well as the evolving scientific research in related fields (geography, biology, etc.) will allow students and businesses to contribute to positive solutions. Water has an essential role in everything from economics and agriculture to conservation and restoration. Students pursuing careers in policy, public administration, business and law will benefit from increased water education. The social dimensions of water range from the evolving human history, culture, ethics and equity, to communications and how we learn and teach about the many facets of water in our lives and society.

Scholarship Opportunity

The Salazar Center is pleased to offer up to twenty $400 Scholarships for students entering the Water Minor Program. Applicable to required courses WATR 101 Water Essentials: How Water Works in the West and WATR 201 Water Fundamentals and Functions.

Apply for Scholarship

Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center

The Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center’s Water Education Initiative works with local water leaders, educators and partners. Together, we bring current information and news, inspiring insights, educational resources, innovative solutions and new opportunities to the San Luis Valley’s community. Together, we can build a better water future.

At Adams State University our water programs aim to educate and empower the next generation of water leaders.


Water Studies Minor Outcomes

The Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center’s Water Education Initiative offers many exciting opportunities for Adams State students, community members, and those in the Water Studies Minor.

Field Experiences

Local and Regional Field Trips
Learn directly from water users and managers
Study water use on the ground
See water systems from the air
Internship opportunities with local and regional entities
Build connections with water leaders
Engage with students from other schools
Attend workshops and conferences to learn and network


Wildlife Biology
Civil Engineering
Public Administration
Elected Offices
Local, State and Federal Government

Leadership Development

Local, State and Federal Boards
Water Districts
Irrigation Districts
Conservation Districts
Conservation Boards
Non-Profit Boards
Wildlife Advocacy
River Health Advocacy
Elected Officials

Water Studies Minor Program Curriculum

Explore Some of Our Courses

WATR 101: Water Essentials: How Water Works in the West (3 hours) 
This course is an introduction and overview of water in the West, from its basic chemical structure and physics as well as hydrology and water’s role in nature to how water serves and is managed as a beneficial resource for people. This course introduces foundational concepts of water’s functional properties, how humans have put water to work and how we have developed systems of water allocation, administration, and management, including an overview of core terminology, and fundamental principles of water management.  The course will focus on the Western water environment and issues, with specific discussions on the application and administration of water in Colorado’s Rio Grande Basin.

WATR 201: Water Fundamentals and Functions (3 hours)
This course is the second in a two-course series emphasizing essential water education. It will expand on fundamental concepts of ground and surface water functions and management as introduced in the prerequisite course, WATR 101 – Water Essentials: How Water Works in the West. The design of this course is to explore the hydrologic processes and cycle in terms of both ground and surface water; examine the environmental aspects of watersheds that affect the hydrologic output, including forest health, precipitation accumulation, and infrastructure regulating surface water runoff; examine and analyze the administration of water and agricultural water use, with a focus and field experiences in the San Luis Valley and Rio Grande Basin of Colorado. The course will include required field trips.

Academic Catalog