In a meeting with state officials and water experts, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper addressed water conservation, stressing the importance of protecting the needs of the agricultural community and while simultaneously protecting the environment and urban growth.
Like many other Southwestern states, Colorado is facing pressures on its water resources. Increasingly arid weather is threatening to dry up access to agricultural irrigation as well as municipal water rights. In addition to climatological pressures, Colorado’s growing population, particularly in suburbs and new developments, is putting increased pressure on an already strained system.
For decades, developments along the Front Range have bought up agricultural water rights from retiring farmers. Buying water rights is cheaper for municipalities than creating new water projects and valuable for retiring farmers who could use the extra revenue. However, this arrangement is expected to remove about 700,000 of irrigated farmland by 2050.
At the annual meeting in Broomfield, Hickenlooper and state officials met with representatives from each of Colorado’s river basins to discuss conservation plans. In a major turn of events from recent meetings, all parties agreed that siphoning water from agricultural production was not a sustainable or desirable solution. Hickenlooper hopes to create water conservation programs in Colorado and start new water projects in order to protect agricultural production.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer