Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2011CO234B

Environmental Impacts of Ag-to-Urban Water Rights Transfers in the South Platte River Basin

Institute: Colorado
Year Established: 2011 Start Date: 2011-03-01 End Date: 2012-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $2,781

Principal Investigators: Mazdak Arabi

Abstract: Colorado’s population is projected to increase nearly 40% by the year 2030; resulting in an estimated increase in water demand between 300,000 and 600,000 acre-feet (CWCB, 2004). While conservation will be heavily relied upon, transfers of water out of irrigated agriculture are anticipated to meet the majority of new demands. The South Platte River Basin is projected to lose as many as 226,000 irrigated acres by 2030 (CWCB, 2005). In recent years, however, there has been a greater push to keep water in agriculture whenever possible. This stems from the growing awareness of the public benefits of agriculture beyond its economic output; including the values associated with access to locally produced foods, open space, and wildlife habitat.