Some have expressed frustration with what they say is the state’s slow pace of a program rollout and want to begin pilot projects to test the program’s feasibility.
Division 6, in sparsely populated northwest Colorado, has traditionally enjoyed abundant water and few demands, but as climate change tightens its grip on the West, there is less water to go around.
As the state of Colorado grapples with whether to implement a demand-management program, which would pay irrigators to temporarily dry up fields in an effort to send more water downstream, there could be unintended consequences for the animals that use irrigated agriculture for their habitat.
In order for these water users to keep taking water during a downstream call by an irrigator, they would have to replace about 113 acre-feet of water in the Crystal River per year.
Water rights for natural river features would represent a shift in a state where putting water to “beneficial use” has traditionally meant taking water out of the river for use in agriculture or cities.
Although city officials are moving forward with plans to build the whitewater park, they are — for now at least — forgoing a step that could help protect their newly built asset and keep water in the river.
The CWCB director said that with important and potentially contentious discussions on the horizon for water-short Colorado, it’s important to have a set of conduct standards in place to guide those discussions.
Experts say the main reason there is opposition from water managers to Wild & Scenic in Colorado is not fear of a federal land grab, but the shortage of water in an arid state that is only getting drier with climate change.
This system, used widely in the western United States, creates an opening for investors who see water as an increasingly valuable commodity in a water-short future, driven by climate change.
It’s still unclear whether or when the dam will need to be rehabilitated; that’s what adding more monitoring instruments may help the district figure out.