Few things are more valuable to a farmer in the arid West than irrigation water. Without it, the land turns back to its natural state: dry, dusty plains.
If a fast-growing city is your neighbor, then your water holds even more value.
Farm families in Western states like Colorado are increasingly under pressure to sell their water. It’s been coined “buy and dry,” as water is diverted from farm fields and instead used to fill pipes in condos and subdivisions.
Buy and dry deals are usually cut behind closed doors, in quiet, unassuming meetings. A city approaches a farmer, or a farmer approaches a city, and strikes a deal. But a recent public auction in Loveland, Colorado threw the doors wide open, bringing myriad bidders and interests into one room to duke it out. It gives a glimpse of the unique stresses and opportunities farmers face in parched portions of the West.
Bidders, some in cowboy hats, some in business suits, packed the room at the Larimer County Fairgrounds. Abuzz with a sort of nervous energy, audience members whispered about how high the prices might climb. Auctioneer Spanky Assitertook the mic, and laid out the stakes… http://www.marketplace.org/2016/08/31/sustainability/farm-families-west-under-pressure-sell-their-water