From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):
This year, the water trust wants to try and expand the voluntary Call for Water. Building on last summer’s success, the short-leasing program — authorized by a 2003 state law — could once again help maintain flows in drought-vulnerable streams.
Details on the 2013 Call for Water will be posted this week at this Water Trust web page. Under the 2003 state statute, parties may temporarily lease or loan their water rights only to contribute water to fill existing instream flow water rights.
An audit of last year’s program showed that water users wanted more time to consider the short-term leasing option. As a result, the water trust is launching the 2013 program this week, well before the irrigation season begins.
Essentially, the water trust uses donated funds to lease water rights that might otherwise be used for irrigation or simply stored upstream. Under those leases, the streams benefit from added flows in sections that might otherwise come close to drying up. Last summer, for example, the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District leased 4,000 acre-feet of stored water in Stagecoach Reservoir in one-year deal that helped boost flows in the Yampa by as much as 26 cfs during the driest parts of the summer. The lease enabled flexible management if conditions on the Yampa improved or deteriorated.
More instream flow coverage here.