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Denver Business Journal | Mike Swan on water-rights in the West

August 21, 2014
  • In The News
  • Water Rights

As mentioned in a recent blog post discussing an article from the New York Times about Investing in Land, Mike Swan, owner and managing broker of Swan Land Company, deliberated several important aspects to pay close attention to when buying and selling ranch property.  One of those key aspects that he discussed was water rights.  Water in the West is a critical commodity and can have a major impact on the real estate of farm land and agricultural properties.  Although information to research water rights is available, it can be a major endeavor to dig deep enough to gather pertinent information.

Cathy Proctor recently wrote an article which was published in the August 19th Denver Business JournalColorado Startup Smooths Flow of Water-Rights Information in West.  Proctor discusses Water Sage, a new web-based program that has been created by Denver, Colorado’s Ponderosa Advisors LLC, an information and analysis firm that focuses on water and the nation’s oil and gas industry. Kelly Bennett, one of four partners in the company, explains that the program “can search for and map a water right, with key information including the name of the owner, how old it is, where the water is diverted from in a stream or pumped from the ground, where it can be used, and for what — such as crop irrigation, livestock or other uses. It also allows customers to focus on specific geographic areas or streams and reservoirs to find information. And it can be done in about 15 minutes, compared to the six hours an experienced water rights researcher would need to replicate the map and list.”  As Swan explains “The service this will provide will be revolutionary. I can sit down with a farmer at his kitchen table and in about 15 minutes give him a full breakdown of his water rights, where in the past those folks don’t have the time to sit down at the regional office and research it — or it would cost them thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to do that same work,” Swan said.  Swan said the information Water Sage provides will be used by buyers and sellers of ranch land to assess the quality, quantity and validity of water rights — a significant factor in figuring out the value of a piece of land.  “There’s a lot of data that’s out there that can’t be easily extracted or interpreted. What we find a lot in our state offices is various documents or information, but it’s not all brought together in one product the way Water Sage does it,” Swan said.

Currently Water Sage provides water rights information for Montana, Wyoming and Colorado however other western states will be available in the future.