CARBONDALE, Colorado – There is a new way to put water back in Colorado’s parched rivers.
After more than a year of back and forth with Pitkin County officials, the nonprofit Colorado Water Trust announced on January 23 a pilot agreement with a Carbondale rancher to increase streamflows in the Crystal River during dry years.
The three-year agreement will compensate Bill Fales and Marj Perry, who own the 600-acre Cold Mountain Ranch just west of Carbondale, for retiming their irrigation practices to leave water in the Crystal River when it needs a boost.
Although the Water Trust has spearheaded water leasing arrangements to benefit other rivers in Colorado, the Cold Mountain Ranch deal is the first to involve the timing of irrigation diversions.
For Zach Smith, a staff attorney for the environmental nonprofit Water Trust, the pilot agreement is an important test for whether this type of conservation program can work for ranchers and rivers…
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