Fish need water. They need enough water, at the right time and the right temperature to thrive. But Trout Unlimited knows that people need water too, and that with increased frequency of drought across the western United States innovative solutions are needed to modernize how we use and share water to make sure there will be enough for everyone.
Across the western states, water is over-appropriated. That means more water has been promised to people than our rivers can support, especially if want to sustain healthy ecologic systems and our fisheries. The current lack of instream flow is major impediment to protecting our runs of salmon and steelhead, as well as our iconic trout fisheries. That is why Trout Unlimited has become a leader in developing innovative solutions to manage our water supplies, assuring we will have enough water for both fish and people.
Water Transactions are projects that change how and where water is used, often including legal changes to water rights to assure that water is distributed according to the priority of the water right. Examples of water transaction projects include installing off-stream storage systems to reduce water diversions during periods of low flow, incentivizing farmers and ranchers to reduce their rates of water diversion during critical times, converting from flood irrigation to more efficient sprinkler systems, and moving the points of diversion from critical, small tributaries to larger mainstem systems. Sometimes a land owner can even donate a water right they no longer need to be protected instream.
The diversity of water transaction projects that Trout Unlimited completes each year reflects the diversity of the rivers and communities that we serve. But these projects all have one thing in common, they restore our rivers while still protecting the economic vitality of our communities.