Colorado Water Trust Employs New, Unique Tactics In Drought Response

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Click here to to the Colorado Water Trust website to download the materials for the program. Here’s the announcement:

The Colorado Water Trust (CWT), a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring streamflows in Colorado, is making a Request for Water. CWT uses market-based, voluntary mechanisms to ensure that water flows in Colorado’s rivers and streams. At this point in time, reports show statewide snowpack at 38% of average, and streamflow forecasts indicate flows are likely to be below average to well below average in all basins. These low flow conditions can stress important aquatic ecosystems. This Request for Water is a pilot program released in limited fashion to address both the drought impacts to streams and the financial needs of Colorado’s water users this summer and fall.

To maintain sufficient streamflows in Colorado’s rivers and streams, we are seeking direct flow or storage water rights for short-term lease into Colorado’s Instream Flow Program for the coming summer and fall seasons. Leasing water into the Instream Flow Program during a dry year will help protect streams and aquatic habitat when it is most critical. We intend to lease appropriate water rights and offer water users the opportunity to both protect Colorado’s natural heritage and generate revenue this year—lease your water for instream flow use, obtain compensation, and grow a crop of fish habitat.

CWT has coordinated this process with the Colorado Water Conservation Board (“CWCB”), which runs the state’s Instream Flow Program. CWT will be paying for and facilitating these leases under a state law specifically designed for this purpose. The law provides several protections for those who choose to lease their water. It also protects other water users from injury when these leases are implemented.

With this Request for Water, we are requesting offers of water from interested water right holders. To lease your water through this pilot program, please read carefully the “Leasing Terms and Conditions” and the “Guide to Initial Offer Form & Frequently Asked Questions” and submit an Initial Offer Form as soon as possible; time is of the essence. Please be diligent in following all Initial Offer Form instructions. Many restrictions are based upon the legal tools available.

Initial Offer Forms and associated documents must be received by the Colorado Water Trust, by mail or by e-mail, by close of business on Friday, May 11, 2012.

More coverage from Grace Hood writing for KUNC. From the article:

Today the Colorado Water Trust announced plans to lease water from willing users to boost stream flows. The idea is to take advantage of a state statute created after the 2002 drought, which allows agencies to lease water short-term from willing sellers to help preserve wildlife, fish, bugs and plants. Amy Beatie, executive director of the Colorado Water Trust, says this will be the first time an organization has taken advantage of the 2002 statute.

“What we’re trying to do is keep low-flow streams alive during what we anticipate to be a fairly dry summer,” she says. For example, fish in low-water flow hunker down in pools where they are more susceptible to parasitism and disease, says Beatie.

CWT is planning on purchasing water rights and initiating projects in all seven of Colorado’s river basins.

More instream flow coverage here.

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