Colorado Rivers and Streams Benefit from Lease of Water Rights

July 6, 2012 by Haley Leave a reply »

A recent article from The Denver Post says that this year’s looming drought has prompted a new push to prevent harm to streams and rivers by temporarily leasing water normally diverted to household taps, farms and ranchlands. Water authorities and conservation groups say that these leases ensure sufficient water in streams and rivers will mean the difference between life and death for fish, bugs, animals and riparian vegetation. 

The Colorado Water Trust has issued a notice seeking people interested in the voluntary leases. Trust leaders have been working on protecting tributaries to the Colorado, Eagle, Fraser and Gunnison rivers and may be able to devote as much as $400,000 to fund leases. The Nature Conservancy also is exploring possibilities on the Cache la Poudre River through Fort Collins and the Dolores River down from McPhee Reservoir in western Colorado.

“This is not about taking water away from people. This is about keeping our rivers whole — and sharing water between people and the environment,” said Nature Conservancy state director Tim Sullivan.  Lease deals to prevent dry-ups this summer would pay people entitled to water from rivers not to use it for up to 120 days.

“We’re asking them to just grow a different crop this year — a crop of water for fish and habitat for fish,” said Amy Beatie, director of the Colorado Trust. “Rivers benefit. And they get cash.” Trust officials calculate that $400,000 in donations could fund leases to guarantee flows of 41 cfs around the state, Beatie said.

“Hopefully, we’d have enough people wanting to do this to make it worthwhile. We have to think about food production as well,” Colorado Farm Bureau vice president Troy Bredenkamp said. “It’s going to be a challenge with commodity prices where they are and the lack of water.”

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