Irrigation

Water Use Audits Offered to Farmers!

Farmers consume nearly 90 percent of Colorado's water, and Colorado State University is offering ways for them to use it more efficiently. A grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to CSU's Center for Agricultural Energy will pay for reduced-cost irrigation efficiency audits for growers with center pivot systems.


July 3, 2016--Vail Daily column: Use it or lose it? (Vail Daily)

The “use it or lose it” feature of Colorado water law is often blamed for discouraging farmers and ranchers from taking efficiency and conservation measures that could benefit the environment or ease the supply and demand imbalance on the Colorado River.


June 26, 2016--After years of drought and overuse, the San Luis Valley aquifer refills (High Country News)

The San Luis Valley in southern Colorado is an 8,000-square-mile expanse of farmland speckled with potato, alfalfa, barley and quinoa fields between the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges. Only about 7 inches of rain fall each year in the San Luis Valley. But while farmers and ranchers can’t depend on moisture above ground, they make up the difference beneath it.


March 13, 2016--Western Slope interests not sold on latest flex bill (Pueblo Chieftain)

A bill that would allow half of a farmer’s water to be transferred for one year to other uses passed the House agriculture committee 8-5 Monday. The bill, HB1228, was opposed by Western Slope water districts and legislators as unnecessary, expensive to farmers or ranchers and potentially harmful by allowing water that could be used within the state to flow out. Former state Sen.


February 18, 2016--Young farmers in La Plata County face expensive, dry future (Durango Herald)

For a farmer in La Plata County, the future looks parched and costly. Working the land has never been easy or necessarily profitable, but a recent study illustrates how water scarcity and land prices make farming in Southwest Colorado unattractive to the next generation. National Young Farmers Coalition, a network promoting sustainable farming and ranching practices with two Co


Bennet Update and Ditch Irrigation Bill

According to a recent press release from his office, in mid-December Colorado Senator Michael Bennet helped pass a year-end bill that involved numerous Colorado priorities. These included financial support for the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, as well as the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The bill contains $157 million for the EWP Program, which aids people and organizations in watersheds following natural disasters like floods and wildfires. The LWCF was reauthorization for three years (to September 30, 2018). According to a Coyote Gulch aticle, in 2016 Bennet is working to pass Senate Bill 384, known as the ditch irrigation bill. The bill would allow mutual irrigation companies, which are nonprofits generally owned by local farmers, to lease water to local entities to earn revenue to pay for repairs on aging infrastructure. Under the current tax code these companies could lose their nonprofit status by profiting from water leasing. Bennet and U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, will have their names on the bill when it goes to the Senate in February. 


Colorado’s Buy-and-Grow vs. Buy-and-Dry Program

Agricultural buy-and-dry occurs when someone purchases land and moves the water into the municipal system. There are mounting fears, however, that permanent dry-up of agricultural lands could potentially cripple the farming industry in Colorado. Alternatively, a buy-and-grow plan would allow farmers to share their water rights with municipalities--essentially a sharing of water rights between rural and urban communities. According to a recent Durango Herald article, with the buy-and-grow plan governments and private interests could help farmers with investments in water-conservation technology and other equipment, thereby helping farmers grow. The farmers would then share the water that they don’t need anymore because of the savings. In the article, Kelly Brough said that “They’re still growing, still producing, they’re more efficient, and they don’t lose their water right.” Brough is the Chief Executive of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce (DMCC). At an early October meeting in Denver with state and local water officials, hosted by the DMCC, Brough indicated that the buy-and-grow plan could usher in a new wave of water policy. To view the full article visit the Durango Herald


High Desert Conservation District, by Susan Thornton, Special Districts Association

In an effort to avoid confusion, the Dolores Conservation District recently changed their name to the High Desert Conservation District (HDCD). Among the services that the newly named HDCD provides is information about cover crops, erosion and salinity control, flood damage, irrigation management, noxious weeds, and practical management of crops and pastures. The District also publishes a resource handbook, Rural Living in Southwest Colorado. In addition, the District has hired an agricultural consultant to provide free on-site consultations with ranchers and farmers to help them establish best practices, which aids with more efficient water use. The free consultations are paid in part by a matching grant from the Southwestern Water Conservation District.


December 27, 2015--Water cuts could create economic 'tsunami' for Colorado Basin (Arizona Daily Star)

To understand how a future Colorado River water cutback could hurt the economy, start with this fact: The seven river basin states, by themselves, make up the fifth largest economy in the world, a speaker said at a recent water conference. Then, consider that the economic output of the areas within those — including Arizona — that depend on the river for water equals that of Au


December 13, 2015--Ogallala aquifer initiative gets $8M more (Water Wired)

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced USDA will invest about $8 million in the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative in Fiscal Year 2016 to help farmers and ranchers conserve billions of gallons of water annually while strengthening agricultural operations.


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