Water Resources Professional Project Reports


Sara M. Gerlitz

Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



Long-term drought and changing demands on the Lower Colorado River Basin are driving the development of agricultural water markets. Initiating new markets, for improved efficiency and water resource management flexibility, may require the identification of good information sources, and building of relationships. The objective of the research was to focus on these initial aspects of creating functioning water markets through the use of decision-support tools for attaining basic location, agricultural production and price information for immediate use. Alternative water transfer markets for Colorado River surface water are emerging from a policy proposal called wheeling. In this Arizona case study, potential applications of the wheeling policy could include the transfer of agricultural surface water from places like Yuma and La Paz Counties in Arizona to municipal and industrial uses in Arizona's urban areas. Geospatial tools such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's CropScape and the Water Governance Relationship Geodatabase provided the necessary geographic information to target agricultural users, like irrigation districts and tribal lands, for wheeling. Consumptive irrigation requirement (CIR) (feet/year) and the water use value ($/acre foot) characteristics for specific crops allowed identification of a set of target crops within individual agricultural areas for possible transfers. Areas with the highest percentage of target crops were considered the preferred target for making social capital investments in relationship building for possible wheeling policy applications.

Language (ISO)



geospatial, water transfer markets, wheeling, Arizona, CAP


A Professional Project Report submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Water Resources, Water Resources Program, University of New Mexico.