LOVELAND, Colo. – Larimer County Department of Natural Resources and the City and County of Broomfield have finalized an innovative water-sharing agreement that keeps a working farm in production while helping fill municipal water needs. The deal closed Tuesday, August 22.
In 2016, Larimer County purchased a farm and its associated water rights southwest of Berthoud with the goal of keeping the farm in active production while offsetting the cost through a water-sharing agreement. After studies by experts in the fields of water, engineering, economics and agriculture, Larimer County determined the amount of water the farm would need to remain viable in perpetuity. Larimer County and Broomfield then entered into an agreement where some of the unneeded water would be purchased by Broomfield outright and a portion of the water would be shared by the two counties in drought years.
This agreement, known as an Alternative Transfer Method (ATM), is the first of its kind in Colorado where water is shared from agricultural to municipal use in perpetuity. ATMs are promoted in the 2015 Colorado Water Plan as a way to provide drought water to cities without permanently drying up productive farmland.