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Improving the Viability of Alternative Water Transfer Methods (ATMs) in Colorado: A Synthesis of Research and Findings from the Getches‐ Wilkinson Center, 2014‐2015

This report summarizes some of the recent research and thinking of the Getches‐ Wilkinson Center (GWC), primarily with an eye toward informing the Colorado legislature on options for facilitating a greater application of ATMs. The ideas herein are pulled from a diverse suite of integrated activities conducted between 2014‐2015, including:
● A review of all ATM related bills considered by the Colorado Legislature since 2000.3
● A review of the draft Colorado Water Plan.4
● A review of relevant literature and case studies, drawing heavily on the ATM studies and pilot projects sponsored by the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) beginning in 2009.5
● A comparative study of ATM opportunities, barriers, and options focused on the western US and Australia’s Murray‐Darling Basin (which is often held up as the gold standard in water transfer efficiency).6
● A GWC workshop of attorneys, administrators, and others familiar with Colorado water court “change cases,” focused on the “no injury” provision of Colorado water law.7
● A case study focused on the struggles in Colorado’s Arkansas Basin to learn from the buy‐and‐dry experience of Crowley County and the nascent efforts to develop the Super Ditch.8
● Discussions from two sessions (“Agricultural Conservation and Transfers,” and “The Colorado Water Plan”) at the GWC conference “Innovations in Managing Western

Drawing on this body of work, the report discusses the  ATM barriers, followed by a review of legislative reform efforts, and conclusions and recommendations for moving forward.