Your Water Your Life Contest Winners!

Amy Nash
Wetland Protection Plan and Conservation Easements
Writing & Literature








Ryan Sawyer in front of a green field and mountains.Ryan Sawyer
Headwaters to Plains: The South Platte River Basin

Ryan Sawyer is a junior at Colorado State University studying Biomedical Sciences with a focus in Environmental Public Health and minoring in Sustainable Interdisciplinary Water Studies. Ryan is a 5th generation Coloradan who grew up
In Denver and graduated from Denver East High School.  Ryan recognizes the immense value of water in the western US. It was through time spent outside and after attending the High Mountain Institute in Leadville, CO that he became very passionate about water. When Ryan is not in school, you can find him working at Happy Lucky’s Teahouse in old town Fort Collins, rowing on Horsetooth reservoir with the Colorado State Crew Team, hiking or flyfishing throughout the state.

Lukas M in front of a green and mountainous landscape.Lukas Migliano
home is where the water is







Headshot- Tanner Welsh


Tanner Welsh
Acequia Auraria
Engineering & Design


The Your Water Your Life (YWYL) contest, spearheaded by the One World One Water Center at MSU Denver, is a statewide effort to connect higher education students with their local water resources through interdisciplinary and intersectional methods. At the OWOW Center, we believe that no issue is not a water issue. Water is connected to everything we do, every career, every interest we hold close, and every path we choose to wander down. The YWYL contest will take place through the 2023/2024 academic school year and aims to provide an opportunity for all students across Colorado to engage with their local water environment and community to showcase how water influences their life by creating a project in one of the below categories.

Students will complete questionnaires on the Colorado Water Plan and local Basin Implementation Plans, meet various competition deadlines, and their submissions will be judged by an interdisciplinary panel of experts. Students can choose from a contest category that they connect with most.


Step by Step Guide:

  1. Learn about the Your Water Your Life Contest:
  2. Outline A Project: decide your category and if you’ll enter as an individual or as part of a team.
  3. Submit a Contest Application.
  4. Attend Your Mid-Point Check In.
  5. Complete Your Project by 11:59pm MST on April 1, 2024.



  • August 1, 2023: Applications Open 
  • January 31, 2024: Midpoint Check Ins Completed
  • January 31, 2024: Budget Requests Due
  • April 1, 2024: Contest Deadline 
  • May 3, 2024: Award Date 
  • June 2024: Winners participate in the Watershed Summit

Contest Hubs

Stephanie Schmidt, Water Testing on the Platte

YWYL Student Hub

Everything contestants need here!

YWYL Student Hub
Group of students studying with a mentor/professor.

YWYL Contest Liaison Hub

Everything Contest Liaisons need here!

YWYL Contest Liaison Hub

Contest Background

“An integrated One Water ethic is necessary to create the transformative change needed to meet the moment and the future.” (Colorado Water Plan Executive Summary 2023)

Colorado Water Conservation Board

The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) represents each major water basin in the state and other state agencies in a joint effort to use water wisely and protect Colorado’s water for future generations. The CWCB creates and manages the Colorado Water Plan framework, and supports the state’s water community with funding and technical resources to implement programs and projects, like the Your Water Your Life Contest. Please read the below information about the Colorado Water Plan and the Basin Implementation Plans. Contestants will be tested on their knowledge of these plans.


Colorado Water Plan

The Colorado Water Plan, first established in 2015 with an updated plan released in January 2023, provides a framework for helping Colorado meet its water challenges through collaborative action around water development and water conservation. “To achieve these upper-end water savings, Colorado will need to employ every tool – going beyond water conservation and efficiency to embrace a One Water ethic. In the context of the Water Plan, One Water means not only matching the right water to the right use but investing in sustained water conservation efforts and integrated water and land use planning.” (Colorado Water Plan Executive Summary 2023) The Colorado Water Plan is a grassroots effort that focuses on 4 interconnecting key action areas: Vibrant Communities, Robust Agriculture, Thriving Watersheds, and Resilient Planning, and relies on the Colorado water community to identify and implement basin-specific and/or statewide water projects.

Read the full 2023 Colorado Water Plan update here.


Basin Implementation Plans

Basin Implementation Plans are part of the overall Colorado Water Plan. There are 8 Basin Implementation Plans for each of Colorado’s river basins: Arkansas, Colorado, North Platte, Rio Grande, Gunnison, Yampa/White/Green, South Platte, and Southwest. Each plan breaks down challenges and strategies that are specific to each of Colorado’s eight river basins.

Learn more about each of the Basin Implementation Plans here.

Rules & Eligibility

Your Water Your Life (YWYL) reserves the right to use the final projects in current and future publications for/by YWYL or One World One Water Center (OWOW).

The creator(s) will retain the intellectual copyright, the physical copy, and all other rights not specified.

YWYL and OWOW will retain the rights to reproduce the imagery for publication on the internet, in social media, and in physical advertising/newsletters. 

YWYL and OWOW will also publish the winners on its website, social media, and any branded print owned and supported by OWOW and YWYL. 


Contest Rules

  • Contestants may choose to enter the YWYL contest as an individual or as part of a team. Max of 4 per team unless otherwise requested.
  • Contestants must review the Colorado Water Plan and Basin Implementation Plans and incorporate them into the YWYL project.
  • Contestants must meet for a mid-point check in with their contest liaisons.


Eligibility- who can participate?

The Your Water Your Life Contest is open to all degree seeking, undergraduate and graduate students attending a higher education institution in Colorado.


Contest Scoring Rubric

Contestants will be scored on the following categories:

Connect to the purpose, objective, and understanding of Colorado Water Plan, Basin Implementation Plans, and water resources in Colorado.  Demonstrate creative thinking and innovation in project design and end product.  Create awareness of water issues.   Showcase an interdisciplinary, intrapersonal connection of how water is connected to life.   Project fits the submission category and has real world feasibility.

Find the Full YWYL Contest Rubric Here


Contest Categories

Contest Application & Funding Requests

Contest Application

Funding Request Form

Submit Your Project

Submit Your Project

Contest FAQ's