In response to a 15-year drought around much of the West, the U.S. Interior Department announced a new initiative called the Natural Resources Investment Center. The idea is to make it easier for the private sector to invest in water conservation projects like water transfers.
Water Resources Director Jimmy Hague with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership says such transfers allow water to be stored and moved to places where it’s needed most during dry spells.
“We have some more work to do to make sure we have good market-based options for farmers, ranchers, cities so they can market conserved water, make a profit off of it but also help the aquifer and help the watershed as a whole.”
The new center is part of the Obama administrations Build America Investment Initiative.
Hague says the new center will make water transfers profitable for water rights holders like many Wyoming ranchers and farmers. He says collaborations between the public and private sectors offer the best creative solutions.
“That’s going to help everybody out West to survive this drought better so that when the next drought hits we have more tools to weather the economy that’s driven down by a lack of water. And especially in Wyoming where it’s a very dry state.”
Hague says the center’s other goal is to encourage private investment in greater sage grouse habitat.