Colorado Out of Drought?

Published online: Mar 24, 2003
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Despite one of the heaviest snowfalls in its history, Colorado growers are still worried about having enough water for their sugarbeets this year.

The South Platte River drainage was at 104 percent of normal snow pack after the storm. This represented about 6.5 inches of water expected from the snowmelt. Some areas in and west of Denver got up to four and one-half feet from the storm.

Good news for growers on the South Platte north of Denver is the fact a well pumping moratorium has been lifted. Growers of sugarbeets were given a reprieve.

It is estimated there are between 1,400 and 1,800 wells in northern Colorado, pulling mostly from the river’s aquifer. This, it had been argued, was taking surface water from senior water rights holders.

In the San Luis Valley of Colorado, the snow—although not as plentiful—was a welcome sight. This area has been particularly dry. Growers in the Valley had been told that their aquifer was down 600,000-acre feet of water. On top of that, the mountains and topsoil were dry.