Department or Program

Environmental Studies


In the American Southwest the supply of water resources is decreasing and becoming more variable while demand continues to rise due to population growth. Creation of new water supplies is often accomplished by the purchase and subsequent dry-up of agricultural lands. However, these "buy-and-dry" water transfers are incredibly detrimental to rural agrarian economies. A host of market-based solutions called alternative transfer methods (ATMs) have emerged that seek to limit the permanent dry-up of agricultural lands. The state of Colorado has been very pragmatic at funding and researching these water-sharing agreements, In this work I catalog and analyze the existing ATM agreements that have been successfully implemented using Colorado as a case study. I also build on previous research of potential water conservation available in an ATM framework. I find that the implementation of these agreements has been largely limited by restrictive water laws and institutional conditions, yet ATMs offer a promising model for future resource use if the preservation of irrigated agriculture is deemed necessary for the state as a whole.

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

First Advisor

Lynn Lewis

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file


Available to Bates community via local IP address or Bates login.