Opportunities for Improved Water Transfers

The transfer (marketing) of water rights from agriculture to urban users is often one of the most cost-effective means of addressing changing water demands in the West.  However, such transactions are problematic in many ways.  Rules intended to protect other water rights holders can impose high costs on buyers and sellers, and can stop otherwise viable transfers.  Additionally, transfers can impose significant socioeconomic impacts on rural communities dependent upon agricultural activities.  Many activities of the Getches-Wilkinson Center are focused on these issues, increasingly under the umbrella of Alternative Water Transfer Mechanisms (ATMs), which describe a class of temporary leases that purport to satisfy urban water needs while maintaining land in agricultural production.  Some products to date include:

This is also a topic featured in our work on the Colorado Water Plan.