Testing new approaches to Colorado River water management

Gates Family Foundation grantee The Nature Conservancy has partnered with the Grand Valley Water Users Association (GVWUA) to identify ways in which irrigators can work together in response to shortage or even curtailment during extreme or prolonged drought, benefitting both rural communities, economies, and the Colorado River itself. The pilot project was recently highlighted by Colorado Mesa University’s Hannah Holm for the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. Beginning in 2017, a sampling of GVWUA water users will cooperatively forgo use of their irrigation water in exchange for payment, allowing an estimated 3,700 acre feet to flow downstream to be stored in Lake Powell. Though this amount of water won’t be consequential, the model established in providing it from the Upper Basin will be. Agricultural water will be fairly compensated, water rights will be protected, and management will be reasonably straightforward and replicable.

Lake Mead