Capitol Beat: Legislature Considers Alternatives to Buy and Dry

Your Water Colorado Blog

By Larry Morandi

4780890161_8734551838_z A farm near Milliken, Colorado. Credit: William Andrus, Flickr.

The Colorado General Assembly is considering a bill that would explore “deficit irrigation” as an alternative transfer mechanism (ATM). ATMs look at alternatives to the acquisition of agricultural water rights and their permanent transfer to other uses. Deficit irrigation is a strategy that applies less water than necessary to meet a crop’s full needs while still achieving a profitable harvest and saving water that can be leased for other purposes.

House Bill 18-1151, co-sponsored by Water Education Colorado board member Representative Jeni Arndt, would add deficit irrigation to land fallowing for pilot projects, which the Colorado Water Conservation Board would approve, that result in leasing conserved water for other uses. It would also exclude from the calculation of “historical consumptive use”—the amount that can be transferred—any decrease in water use resulting from deficit irrigation, thus removing the fear of…

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