Colorado River mapBy Dawn Van Dyke, RCAC communications manager

A pilot program in Colorado is being tested to determine if it can help protect river flows during dry periods.

According to Water Deeply, a local rancher and the nonprofit Colorado Water Trust have agreed that the trust will monitor water flows and if they flow below an agreed upon level, the ranch may shift its scheduled irrigation diversion. The Water Trust would pay the rancher based on changes to irrigation practices, approximately $175 per cubic feet per second of water that the ranch does not divert.

Local farmers and ranchers have senior water rights, but many were willing to work with the Water Trust, leasing their irrigation water for the river’s benefit.

The program is expected to boost stream flows in Colorado’s Crystal River during the dry months of August and September. The pilot is the first step to implement the Crystal River Stream Management Plan.

To read more about the pilot program, go here: