1) What is the minimum acreage size that I can enroll in the EWLP?
Currently, the District requires that all lease applicants enroll no less than 5 acres of actively irrigated land in the program. The District and our partners have agreed to an initial commitment to enroll 3,200 acres in 2021 with a goal of enrolling 2,400 acres in the Full Season Lease (FSL), and 800 acres in the Partial Season Lease (PSL). Enrollment packets will be reviewed by MRGCD staff on a first-come-first-serve basis, however, interested participants will be enrolled only where operationally feasible, and when consistent with program budget limitations and objectives. Examples of program objectives include but are not limited to prioritizing enrollment of land(s) that are:
additional acres may be enrolled depending on hydrological conditions and expected water yield.
2) When can I enroll in the leasing program?
Both the Full Season and Partial Season Lease options for the 2021 EWLP enrollment period open March 2nd.. Enrollment for the FSL closes on March 26th, and May 21st for the PSL. Irrigators who successfully enroll in the FSL will suspend all irrigation of enrolled acreage between April 1st and October 31st of 2021. Irrigators who successfully enroll in the PSL will suspend all irrigation of enrolled acreage between June 1st and October 31st of 2021.
4) How does this program benefit the District and irrigators?
When water supply is not equal to or above anticipated annual demand, the District needs increased flexibility to scale back delivery balance out obligations to our irrigators, the Rio Grande Compact, and the 2016 Biological Opinion. The EWLP allows the District to compensate willing irrigators to forego delivery of water, and in exchange provides the District with more operational flexibility and resilience. Irrigators that enroll in the program benefit by gaining a low risk income stream for their farm operation, while irrigators who do not enroll have less regional agricultural water demand to contend with.
5) How will I be paid by the District once I enroll?
The District will pay you ¼ of the total lease agreement amount upon the start date of the particular lease option you enroll in. You will receive ¾ of the total lease agreement once the District has inspected and approved the enrolled acreage at the end of the season. Full payment should be expected no later than November 13th 2020.
6) How much will the District pay for every acre I enroll?
EWLP-Full Season Lease (FSL) Payment – The District and our partners will pay approved applicants $275/enrolled acre of land for the 2021 FLS term. The District has established an inital enrollment goal of 2,400 acres for this program, with the potential to enroll more if operationally and financially feasible.
EWLP-Partial Season Lease (PSL) Payment – The District and our partners will pay approved applicants $175/enrolled acre of land for the 2021 PSL term. The District has established an initial enrollment goal of 800 acres for this program, with the potential to enroll more if operationally and financially feasible.
7) How will the District enforce compliance with irrigators who enroll in the Program?
Once the enrollment deadline is reached for each of the lease options, the District will compile a master list of the acres and respective owners/lessees that are signed up for the 2021 EWLP-FSL and or EWLP-PSL. ISO’s overseeing water delivery for enrolled lands will be notified of the specific acreage that has been enrolled in their service area. If an ISO finds a field that appears to be irrigated while enrolled in the EWLP, they will contact the owner and then the Conservation Program regarding the violation. Review of the incident by the District may result in termination of the Agreement, in which case the Irrigator will be obligated to return in full to MRGCD any payment already made for the use of water while enrolled in the 2021 EWLP.
8) If I am a farmer leasing land can I enroll in the EWLP?
Yes. Land that is currently under a verbal or written lease can be enrolled in the EWLP as long as the owner of the leased land signs and dates the Participant Interest Form, and the Contract. The land being put forth for enrollment must still meet all of the program requirements. In an effort to protect the vital agricultural land lease market in the Middle Rio Grand Valley, the District requires that the contract to enroll leased land be between the current Lessee of that land and the District. However, the Lessor (owner) of the land must sign off on both the Partipant Interest Form, as well as the Contract.
9) Can I enroll the same land(s) in the EWLP for consecutive years?
No. Starting in 2021, land that is enrolled in the EWLP will not be eligible for re-enrollment in the EWLP for 4 consecutive years. For example, if you enroll 10 acres in 2021, those same 10 acres would not be eligible for re-enrollment in the EWLP until 2026.