Colorado River Basin Environmental Water Transfers Scorecard

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The voluntary transfer of water rights (or portions of water rights) to environmental uses (including streamflows, wetlands, and aquatic species) has proven to be an effective means of restoring aquatic species and ecosystems in some western states. While these environmental water transfers are being used with increasing frequency, state laws require a review of any changes to a water right, and the legal frameworks in western states vary considerably. As a result, the legal scope of environmental transfers substantially differs from state to state, as does the burden of getting those transfers legally approved. The Environmental Water Transfer Scorecard uses a framework based on existing research to assess the laws and policies of each Colorado River Basin state related to environmental water rights transfers, and in particular, the extent to which their laws and policies facilitate such transactions. This effort was undertaken by Stanford’s Water in the West program in collaboration with AMP Insights and other experts.


Type of resource text
Date created March 28, 2017


Author Szeptycki, Leon
Author Pilz, David
Sponsor Stanford Water in the West, a program of the Woods Institute for the Environment and the Bill Lane Center for the American West, Stanford University.
Sponsor Walton Family Foundation.


Subject water rights
Subject water law
Subject watershed health
Subject water allocation
Genre Article

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User agrees that, where applicable, content will not be used to identify or to otherwise infringe the privacy or confidentiality rights of individuals. Content distributed via the Stanford Digital Repository may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

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Szeptycki, Leon and Pilz, David. (2017). Colorado River Basin Environmental Water Transfers Scorecard. Stanford Digital Repository. Available at:


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