Stanford ranks states in the Colorado River Basin on water rights transfers
Stanford ranks states in the Colorado River Basin on water rights transfers.
Stanford’s Water in the West program ranks states in the Colorado River Basin on their use of and support for a legal tool enabling water rights holders to voluntarily transfer their water to benefit the environment.
A new report from Stanford’s Water in the West program assesses progress among states in the Colorado River Basin with respect to environmental water rights transfers, a legal tool that enables water rights holders to voluntarily transfer their water to rivers, streams and wetlands to benefit the environment and potentially generate revenue.
It also supports a variety of aquatic ecosystems from its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains to the deserts of the Southwest.
Despite recent heavy rains in parts of the West, basin states – which include Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming – have faced years of drought coupled with water scarcity resulting from increased water needs, climate change and other factors.
As scientific predictions expect these conditions to worsen, researchers say states will need to look for fair ways to reallocate water supplies, including increased use of environmental water rights transfers.
“These transfers can help fish and other aquatic species, provide an alternative revenue source for water rights holders and play a role in broader water markets.” Differences in implementation Despite the potential benefits and appeal of environmental water rights transfers, the laws regarding their regulation and approval vary from state to state.
(Image credit: Szeptycki and Pilz) “All seven states in this report are at different stages in their evolution toward promoting more environmental water transfers and we hope that this work can help each state highlight some of the most effective next steps they might take,” said David Pilz, director of AMP Insights and a lead author of the report.
The report builds on Water in the West’s 2015 report “Environmental Water Rights Transfers: A Review of State Laws, prior work by AMP Insights and work by other researchers.
California also scored well as it provides state funding for improving environmental flows.