Streamflow Depletions Considered in Water Transfers

by Richard L. Stenzel, Div of Water Resources, Denver, United States,
Harold D. Simpson, Div of Water Resources, Denver, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Management of Irrigation and Drainage Systems: Integrated Perspectives


In the State of Colorado, streamflow depletions are defined as that amount of water diverted to beneficial use minus return flows to the stream system. This paper summarizes the engineering procedures used in transfer cases to quantify streamflow depletions that occur as a result of direct flow diversion from streams, diversions to storage, and diversion by wells. These procedures include the determination of the amounts historically diverted, crop consumptive use, reservoir evaporation losses, ditch system losses, irrigation application efficiencies, return flow and dryup requirements. In Colorado, water transfers involving a change of water right are governed by the standard of non-injury to other vested water rights, and they must be approved by district court judges presiding over water courts; therefore, engineers are required to prepare reports and provide testimony describing their engineering methodology. The district court judges base their decisions in part on the technical information presented by the engineers, geologists and other experts.

Subject Headings: Streamflow | Water rights | Return flow | Irrigation systems | Water policy | Spillways | Water storage | Wells (water) | Colorado | United States

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