Webinar on ag water leasing Decision Support Tool offered

Colorado Cattlemen’s Association’s Ag Water NetWORK has created an online tool that helps agricultural water right holders assess the potential of leasing their water rights for other uses. The supporting webinar describes the features of the lease screening tool, which generates a description of a water right’s lease potential based on user-inputted information about the water right, including location, seniority, acres irrigated and other criteria. Both the webinar and the lease Decision Support Tool are available at https://www.agwaternetwork.org.

The state water plan, released in 2015, calls for more water storage, conservation and alternative transfer mechanisms (i.e., ag water leasing) to help minimize buying and drying of irrigated farm land in Colorado. Under a lease program, farmers are compensated for sharing a portion of their irrigation water with municipal, industrial, or other water interests to help them meet their respective water needs. Ag water right holders retain full ownership of their water rights and land. Irrigated fields may be fallowed or deficit-irrigated to ‘free up’ consumptive use water for temporary leasing.

An ag water right holder can use the Decision Support Tool to find out the key considerations of an ag water lease and how suitable his or her water right(s) might be for leasing.The Ag Water NetWORK website includes a map which also shows locations around the Colorado where leases are occurring.

Colorado’s population of 5.4 million could nearly double to 10 million by 2050, according to the state water plan. The plan estimates that as much as one-fourth of Colorado’s irrigated agricultural land could be lost through the purchase and transfer of water rights from agriculture to urban areas. Such large-scale dry-up of irrigated agriculture would have permanent adverse economic, environmental and food security impacts.