Our friends at Eagle Valley Land Trust discussed CWT’s Request for Water program with a number of folks in their area, and the owner and operator of Coyote River Ranch was the very first person to offer to lease water through the pilot program on April 30th.
Coyote River Ranch offered to lease 2.0 cfs of water that would otherwise be diverted from Deep Creek, a tributary to the Colorado River. Reducing the acreage it irrigated this summer, Coyote River Ranch entered into a one-year lease with CWT and the CWCB to benefit the 0.5 miles decreed instream flow water right on Deep Creek. In exchange, the owner would receive $3,321, the value of the hay and alfalfa the ranch would have grown if it did not lease 2.0 cfs to the local creek and river.
In the Deep Creek system, a little water made an appreciable difference. The Deep Creek instream flow water right is decreed for 14 cfs from May-September and 8 cfs from October–April. In August, measurements indicated that the instream flow water right was lacking, and the CWCB began using the water available through this lease for instream flow use. Without this lease, flows in Deep Creek would have been below the level needed to preserve the natural environment.
Each lease required extensive engineering. For this lease, the analysis showed lagged return flows accruing to the Colorado River near Coyote River Ranch. The State Engineer’s Office conditioned the approval of this lease on CWT and CWCB’s finding a source of replacement water to replicate that slow-moving groundwater’s return to prevent injury to downstream water users. The Colorado River Water Conservation District agreed to release water that it had previously stored in Wolford Mountain Reservoir for drought mitigation purposes. We are constantly thankful for strong relationships with water users across the state that allow us to build creative, mutually beneficial streamflow restoration projects.