Irrigating the cornfields near Xcel Energy’s Pawnee power station. This site is a great example of an ATM project at work in Colorado.
Vineyards in the Grand Valley, near Palisade. The valley is a major fruit growing region, with a large number of orchards including wine grapes and peaches. Photo: M. Nager.
Colorado's Water Plan & Agriculture
Colorado's Water Plan acts as a foundation for Colorado to honor the State’s core water values. One of Colorado's water values is a productive economy that supports viable and productive agriculture. Agriculture uses the largest amount of water in Colorado and is the economic backbone for many rural communities. It supports important environmental attributes, strengthens Colorado’s food security, and upholds our state’s cultural identity. Preserving agriculture is vital to Colorado.
Colorado faces many big water challenges, including agricultural dry-up. The purchase and permanent transfer of agricultural water rights is causing irrigated agriculture to disappear. At the current rate of transfer, there will be a major reduction in Colorado’s agricultural lands in the future. This could affect Colorado’s economy and food security. In addition, rural communities could suffer along with agriculture if enough agricultural business goes away. Colorado’s Water Plan will respect property rights and the contributions of the agricultural industry by maximizing options for alternatives to permanent agricultural dry-up.
The plan sets an objective that agricultural economic productivity will keep pace with growing state, national, and global needs, even if some acres go out of production. To achieve this objective, the State will work closely with the agricultural community, in the same collaborative manner that has produced agricultural transfer pilot projects, to share at least 50,000 acre-feet of agricultural water using voluntary alternative transfer methods by 2030.
Read more about agriculture in Colorado's Water Plan Chapter 6.4: Alternative Agricultural Transfers.
Ag Water Summit - November 29, 2016
The Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC) and Colorado Ag Water Alliance (CAWA) held an Ag Water Summit on November 29, 2016 with 175 participants from across the state. The summit focused on identifying concrete ways to achieve the measurable objective in Colorado’s Water Plan to share at least 50,000 acre-feet of agricultural water using voluntary alternative transfer methods (ATMs) by 2030. The day included discussions on successful current agricultural transfer method (ATM) projects from the perspective of agriculture, municipal and industrial, and environmental and recreational water users; common denominators and obstacles to ATMs; legal and legislative issues related to ATMs; and best next steps to move ATMs forward.
- Audio - provided by Barn Media
- Final Summary Report
- Existing studies and reports:
- 2016 Ag Water Right Holder Survey Results Summary (August 2016)
- Super Ditch Final Report: Development of Land Fallowing - Water Leasing in the Lower Arkansas Valley (2002- mid 2011)
- Colorado River Water Bank Feasibility Phase 1 Final Report (June 2012)
- Colorado River Water Bank Feasibility Phase 2 Final Report (March 2013)
- Summary of Selected Findings for Development of Practical Alternative Agricultural Water Transfer Methods (May 2010)
- Development of Practical Alternative Agricultural Water Transfer Measures for Preservation of Colorado Irrigated Agriculture (May 2011)
- Poudre Water Sharing Working Group Executive Summary (May 2015)
- FLEX Market Model Project Final Report (June 2013)
- FLEX Water Market Education and Implementation Phase Final Report (December 2015)
- Alternatives to Permanent Dry Up of Formerly Irrigated Lands (June 2013)
- Water Partnerships: An Evaluation of Alternative Agricultural Water Transfer Methods in the South Platte Basin Final Report (March 2012)
- Lower South Platte Irrigation Research and Demonstration Project Final Report (December 2011)
- Lower South Platte Irrigation Research and Demonstration Project Final Report (June 2014)
- Yampa Basin Alternative Agricultural Water Transfer Methods Study (March 2014)
- HB13-1248 - Catlin Canal Company Rotational Land Fallowing-Municipal Leasing Pilot Project 2015 Annual Report
- HB13-1248 - Catlin Canal Company Rotational Land Fallowing-Municipal Leasing Pilot Project 2016 Annual Report
|Review of CO Cattlemen’s Association/CAWA Survey||Phil Brink – CCA, Ag Water Network, Brink Inc.|
|Aurora Water - ATMs Arkansas Basin||Gerry Knapp - Aurora Water|
|Foutain/Fowler ATM||Michael Fink - Fountain/Fowler|
|Successful ATM projects: Xcel Energy View||Richard Belt - Xcel Energy|
|How Migh a "Water Bank" Work?||Aaron Derwingson – The Nature Conservancy|
|Lower Gunnison Project||David Kanzer – CO River Water Conservation|
|Three Critical Elements for ATM Success||Peter Nichols – Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti|
|Promising Developments & Legal Tweaks||Anne Castle – Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment|
|Statutory Provisions||Kevin Rein – CO Division of Water Resources|