Location: SCR 357
Agricultural Water Alternative Transfer Methods
WATER RESOURCES REVIEW COMMITTEE
|Votes: View-->||Action Taken:|
09:03 AM -- Agricultural Water Alternative Transfer Methods
John Stulp, Governor’s Special Policy Advisor on Water, explained that alternative transfer mechanisms (ATMs) enable temporary agriculture water rights transfers for other uses and discussed how ATMs may reduce the need to permanently transfer agricultural water rights to address growing urban water demand (Attachment A). ATMs include interruptible supply agreements, long-term rotational fallowing, water banks, deficit/partial irrigation practices, and alternate cropping types. He provided an update on the implementation of Senate Bill 07-22 that created the Alternative Agricultural Water Transfer Methods Grant Program. To date, 27 grants have been approved totalling $5 million including 13 projects in the South Platte Basin and five projects in the Arkansas River Basin. Mr. Stulp also discussed several of the grant recipients including a Larimer County Open Space project and the System Conservation Pilot Project to address potential water shortages in the Colorado River Basin. He also responded to questions from the committee about the System Conservation Pilot Project and efforts to address water demand in the lower Colorado River Basin. He also discussed the role of Lake Powell to generate hydroelectric power and store surplus water that enables the upper Colorado River Basin states to comply with the Colorado River Compact.
Jim Yahn, Executive Director, North Sterling Irrigation District, discussed an ATM sponsored by the North Sterling Irrigation District called the Point of Rocks 2 that provides water for BNN Energy oil and gas production and discussed changes to the districts water rights to enable this ATM. He also discussed farmers who are participating in the ATM and infrastructure that needed to be developed to facilitate the ATM. He estimated that the ATM project may use 5 to 10 percent of the water rights in the district depending on BNN's water needs. He also responded to questions from the committee about the Point of Rocks 2 project and measures to protect other water rights from the water transfer. He also discussed an interruptible water supply agreement that provides water for the Xcel Energy Pawnee Power Plant.
Jack Goble, Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, discussed the Catlin Lease-fallowing Pilot Project that was approved by the Colorado Water Conservation Board (board) in 2015 under the authority of House Bill 13-1248 (Attachment B). This law authorizes the board, in consultation with the State Engineer, to administer a pilot program consisting of up to 10 pilot projects, each up to 10 years in duration, to demonstrate the practice of fallowing agricultural irrigation land and leasing the associated water rights for temporary municipal use. He also discussed measures to protect nonparticipating water rights from the effects of the water transfers related to the Catlin Lease-fallowing Pilot Project. He explained that the average payment to a farmer participating in this project was about $1,000 per acre. He also identified proposed ATMs in the Arkansas Basin and responded to questions from the committee about the Catlin Lease-fallowing Pilot Project.
Mr. Stulp identified other ATMs in Colorado including the McKinley Ditch ATM. He also identified the benefits of ATMs for farmers and other water users and lessons learned from the ATM pilot projects.