Flexible water market bill moves forward in Colorado legislature

<p>(Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)</p>
<p>The Colorado Capitol.</p>

The state House moved forward Tuesday with a bill intended to make Colorado’s water markets more flexible.

The measure would make it easier for some farmers and ranchers to transfer part of their water rights to other uses. If they found ways to conserve water in their agricultural operations, they’d be able to sell the excess to cities or other users.

"Currently you have to use your entire water right or you stand a chance of losing it. So there’s no incentive to conserve," said Democratic Representative Jeni Arndt of Fort Collins.

Arndt said the goal is to find new ways to address the state’s growing need to for water.

The bill would limit the number of flexible water rights available statewide. The House approved it with bipartisan support. Western slope lawmakers, though, are concerned about its potential impact on water markets.

The measure now heads to the state Senate, which rejected a similar proposal last year.