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.


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.


October 14, 2015--US Senator Bennet calls for passage of SB 384 — The ditch irrigation bill (Greeley Tribune)

Bennet visited a farm west of Eaton early Monday afternoon to learn about ditch irrigation, hoping to take what he learned back to Washington to help pass Senate Bill 384, known as the ditch irrigation bill, an effort to amend the tax code to facilitate water leasing and water transfers to promote conservancy and efficiency.


September 21, 2015--State agrees to improve flows on Lower Dolores (Durango Herald)

Colorado’s top water board agreed Tuesday to improve flows on the Lower Dolores River to boost the health of the river and its native fish. The Colorado Water Conservation Board will seek an in-stream flow right of up to 900 cubic feet per second on the Lower Dolores below its confluence with the San Miguel River. In-stream flows are designated by the board to preserve an


September 19, 2015--Lawmaker wary of fracking wastewater on crops (Water Online)

A California legislator wants foods made with crops that rely on recycled fracking wastewater to be labelled as such. “Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, said such water might include harmful contaminants, including carcinogens,” Capital Public Radio reported. “Oil companies sell Central Valley farms millions of gallons of treated wastewater every day for irrigation.


August 2, 2015--Hydro-powered irrigation: Colorado makes water work (Earth Techling)

Much of the west coast’s water comes from the Colorado river, which, as its name suggests, originates high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The current drought is most severe at the end of the line in Nevada and California, but Colorado is also drying out. Restrictions on residential water use are helping, but can only do so much.


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