‘Buy and dry’ could take 40% of farmland out of irrigated production in the South Platte Basin by 2050


Here’s a recap of the February 25 “2013 Water Course” seminar at Colorado Mesa University from Hannah Holm writing for the Grand Junction Free Press. Here’s an excerpt:

According to Jacob Bornstein, a program manager for the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) who spoke Feb. 25 at a water seminar at Colorado Mesa University, continuing along this path could lead to the drying up of up to 40% of irrigated agriculture in the South Platte River Basin by 2050, an outcome state leaders are eager to avoid. Western Slope agriculture is also at risk, although “status quo” water sourcing practices would dry up closer to 20% of irrigated farm and ranch land over the same period.

Bornstein explained that permanent transfers of agricultural water are more appealing than temporary leases and rotational fallowing agreements because both kinds of transfers require lengthy, expensive water court processes, and permanent transfers provide more long-term certainty to urban water providers.

Bornstein described how the CWCB, Colorado’s primary water policy agency, is working with roundtables of stakeholders in river basins across the state to try to develop a more balanced plan for meeting the water demands expected from population growth in coming decades. Part of the challenge is to prepare for multiple scenarios, since no one can be sure precisely what the climate and economy will serve up for the state in terms of water supply and demand.

More education coverage here.

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