During the 2020 legislature, Governor Jared Polis signed a bill into law that will expand and extend a successful program to help keep more water in our rivers.
Colorado’s rivers and streams support rafting, angling, wildlife, agriculture, and communities. They are a cornerstone of Colorado’s economy and way of life.But, right now, rivers and streams are facing major challenges.
Climate change, long-term drought, and increasing population growth all threaten our rivers’ health. HB20-1157 will help ensure that they have enough water for everyone who depends on them.
The law will allow farmers, ranchers, and other water rights holders to temporarily and voluntarily choose to allow water to stay in rivers to help sustain them during dry periods. It’s a win-win, benefiting individual water users and rivers.
Here’s a great example from 2015 of how the program works:
A local rancher in the Gunnison Basin used some, but not all, of his allotted water during the first part of his growing season. He decided that during the dry months of July and August he would temporarily and voluntarily lend water to the state, ensuring flows remained in Tomichi Creek during a typically dry-period. He received payment for water he did not use that year, and the water left in the creek allowed fish to migrate farther upstream to reach essential habitat.