The future of agriculture across the Great Plains hinges on water. Without it, nothing can grow.
Climate models and population growth paint a pretty bleak picture for water availability a few decades from now. If farmers want to stay in business, they have to figure out how to do more with less. Enter: super efficient irrigation systems.
Afternoon clouds and occasional rains have dotted the Western Slope in the past few weeks, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t still worried about their water.
Last week Matthew Harris posted on the Almanac that the water he gets from German Creek was called on by a senior rights holder for the first time in the eight years he’s lived in Paonia. His creek’s just one of many that snake across the North Fork Valley, but if it’s been that long since that senior rights holder felt like they needed more water, should other residents and farmers be concerned?
In early July, Colorado designated 14 counties "primary natural disaster areas" due to agricultural losses caused by the recent and ongoing drought. Several of those counties are in the San Luis Valley in south central Colorado. Farmers there are now eligible for low interest emergency loans, but as KGNU’s Maeve Conran reports, that may not be enough for this agricultural hub, which is facing a long term water crisis that could permanently affect the entire valley.
Energy regulators in Colorado are examining whether to increase the distance between oil and gas drilling sites and buildings such as schools and homes. They’re also considering a water-testing requirement that would need to be done before and after drilling takes place.
In an effort to give the public more information on the impact of oil and gas drilling in their communities – the Colorado Department of Natural Resources is launching a new public database on water quality near drilling well sites. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
As new technology allows the oil and gas industry to develop areas once thought to be off-limits, across Colorado, local governments are pushing the boundaries of the state’s regulatory authority to protect land and citizens. KVNF’s Ariana Brocious reports that can land them in tricky territory.