Location: SCR 357
Water Bank Working Group Grand Valley Pilot Project
WATER RESOURCES REVIEW COMMITTEE
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09:03 AM -- Water Bank Working Group Grand Valley Pilot Project
The committee was called to order. A quorum was present. Chris Treese, External Affairs Manager, Colorado River Water Conservation District, and Mark Harris, General Manager, Grand Valley Water Users Association, presented an update to the committee on the Conserved Consumptive Use Pilot Project. A copy of the presentation can be found at: http://coga.prod.acquia-sites.com/. Mr. Treese discussed an overview of the Colorado River Basin and the goals of the project. Committee members received a fact on the project (Attachment A).
Mr. Harris discussed the demand management and water banking aspects of the project. Mr. Harris also discussed the project's goal of improving Lake Powell water levels. Goals for the project include: gaging farmer interest, determining scalability, mitigating financial cost and risk, continuing compliance with existing contracts, and exploring potential benefits.
Mr. Harris also discussed compliance issues with the project to ensure downstream water rights holders are not injured. He also discussed how the project is based on farmers' willingness to conserve consumptive use during certain times of the irrigation season. In 2017, 10 farmer cooperators participated in the project. Project criteria include payments for participation, active farming operations, and acreage between 60 and 240 acres (not to exceed 50 percent of total 2016 farm acres that have been controlled for at least three years). The 10 cooperators were chosen by lottery from a pool of 30 farmers. In 2017, the project provided 3,178 acre-feet of conserved consumptive use with a total budget of about $1.0 million.
Mr. Treese discussed other initiatives being explored by the Colorado River Water Conservation District to improve water levels at Lake Powell. Mr. Treese responded to a committee question regarding the use of water by states in the Lower Colorado River Basin.
In response to a committee question, Mr. Treese discussed how storage is managed in the basin and how shortages are shared between the states. He also discussed funding participants for the project, including Front Range water providers. Mr. Harris further explained storage differences between the Upper and Lower Basins. Mr. Treese discussed Colorado's obligations under the Colorado River Basin Compact.
In response to committee questions, Mr. Harris discussed the legality of water rights under the Colorado River Basin Compact. Mr. Treese further discussed the accounting process for various consumptive uses and storage accounts with Lake Powell by the Bureau of Reclamation. He also discussed the operating agreement used by the states under the Colorado River Basin Compact.