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Posted inFeatured, Special Reports

WATER FOR OIL: Wyoming farmers earn cash diverting irrigation water to oil rigs

Dozens of landowners are voluntarily forgoing crop irrigation to divert their appropriated water to drilling companies instead. Rather than yield a few hundred dollars per acre-foot of water to grow and harvest hay, an irrigator may earn a few thousand dollars on that same acre-foot of water by selling it to drillers in the Niobrara oil play. But what happens if the oil industry is successful in tapping the Niobrara? Could crop irrigators and industry alike become dependent on this business relationship over five or 10 years of drilling, shifting the declining resource of water away from agriculture to an industrial use?