From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
A stream of studies is feeding into what could become a coordinated water database for the Arkansas River in Colorado. But the process is slow, expensive and filled with sometimes conflicting information about how the river performs.
The Arkansas Basin Roundtable last week reviewed ongoing studies that have grown from discussions by the roundtable since 2005. The studies look at technical, legal and policy questions surrounding agricultural water transfers, and include pilot projects on the Super Ditch and conservation easements. “The next step is to look at imported flows versus native flows and see how they interact,” Barber said. “There are several models, but they don’t talk to each other.”
More from the meeting, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain:
There’s nothing like a drought year to stir up questions about whether water is being managed properly. A routine discussion about the voluntary flow program for the Upper Arkansas River erupted into a debate about water storage policy at the Arkansas Basin Roundtable meeting Wednesday.
“We lost an opportunity to store water upstream because we were waiting for this magical date,” said Reed Dils, talking about the flow program he helped start more than 20 years ago. Flows could have been altered because of drought forecasts earlier this year, said Dils, Chaffee County’s director on the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which helps set storage policy.
More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:
The Arkansas Basin Roundtable this week looked at moving ahead with an agriculture values study being coordinated by James Pritchett, an economics professor at CSU-Fort Collins.
Past studies have tied farm revenue to acreage or looked at hypothetical irrigation patterns if more water were available. The new study will look at real-world conditions and possibilities for the Arkansas River basin in particular, said Gary Barber, chairman of the roundtable.
The first part of the study will look at identifying the current market and hydrological conditions associated with irrigated agriculture, explained Perry Cabot, of the Colorado Water Institute, a research arm of CSU-Fort Collins. It then will move into looking at the broader value of water in agriculture and develop a baseline. Finally, the project will estimate the larger value of water to the regional economy.
More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.