‘…the consensus has been that this form of water transfer [Buy and Dry] does not serve the long-term health of the state’ — Denis Reich

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Here’a a guest commentary written by Denis Reich running in the Summit Daily News. From the article:

Since the nine basin roundtables first convened across the state in 2006, the consensus has been that this form of water transfer does not serve the long-term health of the state. Agriculture has a critical role to play in the future of the state’s economy, open-space needs and cultural identity. More sustainable and agriculture-friendly strategies are needed. Researchers, ditch companies, irrigators and division engineers have been active in partnership with the roundtables and the Colorado Water Conservation Board to investigate and quantify water savings achievable from partial deficit irrigation (giving plants as much as they need, but less than they’d like), rotational fallowing and temporary leases. The simple objective of these investigations is to develop non-permanent transfers of water from agricultural users to urban areas during periods of high demand, such as this year’s drought: giving up some agricultural water without permanently drying up farms and the communities that go with them.

It’s a strategy that has many obstacles (legal and otherwise), but successful models exist in California and other states. Acknowledging that states with perennial water scarcity probably show us what we can eventually expect here, it’s likely Colorado agriculture will be a player in the municipal water business come mid-century. Some roundtable representatives still aren’t happy with such a compromise. It’s not just farmers and ranchers who are chagrined: environmental and recreational spokespersons prefer other opportunities for agriculture, recreation, and the environment to share water in a mutually beneficial and profitable fashion without selling water to communities that grow irresponsibly.

As these issues are debated, it is important to broaden the conversation beyond the “usual suspects” of water stakeholders represented on the roundtables. Public input is needed to help ensure the solutions found respond to community values, and to ensure that discussions are converted into implementable solutions.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

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