In July, the Larimer County Board of County Commissioners and the Broomfield City Council each approved an intergovernmental agreement related to the transfer and sharing of Colorado-Big Thompson (“CBT”) units. This agreement includes the first permanent Alternative Transfer Mechanism (“ATM”) in the state.
ATMs, which are promoted by the Colorado Water Plan, are an alternative to the “buy and dry” method of acquiring water, which has fallen into disrepute due to the impact of permanently drying up agricultural lands on rural communities. They optimize water use by directing water supplies where they are most productive each year. (For background on the Colorado Water Plan, see “Colorado Water Plan Meets Milestone with Release of the Second Draft,” JOW August 2015).
Under the intergovernmental agreement, the parties have established a permanent ATM in which they share 80 CBT units. Broomfield is paying $10,400/unit to be able to use the water during drought conditions. When water supplies are abundant, Larimer County will use the water to keep a 211-acre farm in production. In addition, Broomfield is purchasing another 115 units at a price of $25,550/unit, which was negotiated to be below the current market rate. (For information about the CBT market see, “CBT Water Market Indicator: Prices Continue to Climb” in this issue).
Larimer County acquired the farm, which is now known as Little Thompson Farm, in August 2016 at a total price of $8.58 million, of which $100,000 was contributed by the Town of Berthoud. Of the total price, the land, mineral rights, and infrastructure were valued at $1.7 million. The remaining $6.88 million was accounted to the water rights—which included 240 CBT units, 16 shares in Handy Ditch (which yield about 8 AF/share), and 20 shares in Dry Creek Lateral Ditch (which provides access to the ditch for delivery of CBT or Handy Ditch water).
Written by Marta L. Weismann