Colorado Planted, But No Water

Published online: May 02, 2002
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Growers in Colorado’s San Luis Valley have finished planting their crops but now are sweating out an historic low water-table situation.

The mountain ranges that feed the rivers and aquifers in the Valley did not have enough snowpack this year to recharge the underground systems. The aquifers, according to water officials, are down 300,000-acre feet as of April.

Many well users have already been told they will have to shut down wells in some areas.

Irrigation canals, fed from the Rio Grande and other rivers, are under terrible strain. The Rio Grande and San Juan mountain range river basins ringing the valley are down to 6 percent of normal snowpack. Statewide the figure is 19 percent of normal.

The story is not a good one on the front range either. Farmers and ranchers are really scared as the days go by without rain. In the Denver Metro area, too many people don’t understand they are living in a high desert area. They could care less about water because, as one observer stated, “they think its always going to be there.”