Managing our water resources, whether across an entire river basin or on a single field of corn, is not easy, and none would claim that it can be done perfectly. The challenge of water management encompasses more than just supplying adequate water to meet various uses. Water managers include anyone who “touches” the water, including federal and state agencies, conservancy districts, and canal companies, as well as end-users like farmers. The newly unveiled Colorado Water Plan has put collaboration between all water managers involved in a beneficial use near the top of the list for solving our future water problems. Recently, a group of water managers, including irrigators, has joined together with Colorado State University (CSU) researchers to address agricultural water issues in the Lower Arkansas River Valley (LARV).
The group, called the Arkansas River Management Action Committee (ARMAC), was started under a USDA-sponsored project at CSU with a goal of finding effective ways to improve irrigation water management, while assuring compliance with legal-institutional constraints on the river. Initiated in May of 2015, the group has provided valuable feedback from the water stakeholders in the LARV that will prove valuable in meeting the following specific objectives: (1) Identify feasible conservation practices and describe their impact on improving water quality, boosting agricultural productivity and saving water in the irrigated stream-aquifer system, (2) Identify river-reservoir system operation strategies at the basin scale that permit implementation of conservation practices so as to comply with State water law and the Interstate River Compact, (3) Measure the economic standing of alternative conservation practices and river-reservoir operation/flow augmentation options, and (4) Incorporate data on the impacts of conservation practices and river operation/flow augmentation options that encourage participation by stakeholders and also educates policy makers to the benefits of integrated basin-wide water management.
As the project continues, and researchers collaborate with the local stakeholders through the ARMAC, results will be distributed for broader public input. The expected output is a recommended set of management actions that will meet the needs of all water users while enhancing the productivity and environmental health of the LARV. For more information, contact Blake Osborn, Water Resources Specialist for CSU, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted to the BARN by:
Blake Osborn, Water Resources Specialist, Colorado Water Institute, CSU Extension; (719) 545-1845 Office; Blake.email@example.com