New Water Rights Transfer

The non-profit Colorado Water Trust and the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) have unveiled a creative new way for agricultural water rights holders to be compensated for sharing their water to meet conservation goals. The two organizations have collaborated to restore late summer flows to a 5-mile stretch of the Little Cimarron River in the Gunnison River Basin by sharing an agricultural water right.

Water Trust Executive Director Amy Beatie indicated that the agreement is the first of its kind, allowing agricultural water rights holders to use their water to raise a crop in early summer and then choose to be compensated for leaving it in the river in late summer and early fall. Compensation can be in the form of a lease or sale. It’s a model they hope to see replicated around the state. “How to meet the ecological needs of streams while keeping water in agriculture is a discussion happening at every level of water policy in the state,” Beatie said. “Agriculture is an essential part of Colorado’s economy. So are recreation and the environment. This project is a great new example of how water sharing can work on the ground within the state’s existing laws to bring together what are usually seen as incompatible uses.”