Farm disaster on the South Platte

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Here’s a look at the fallout from the shut down of wells earlier in the century in the South Platte Alluvial Aquifer, from the Associated Press via CBS News. From the article:

The farmers’ plight traces back to the late 1800s, when reservoir and ditch companies bought senior rights to the Platte. Some 30 years later, farmers drilled their first wells in the South Platte River Valley…

For years, the state water engineer worked out ad hoc deals with farmers, allowing them to pump their wells without replacing water required by the law. There was enough to go around, and senior rights holders were satisfied. But trouble cropped up during drought years earlier this decade. In 2003, the state Supreme Court ordered the engineer to force individual farmers to adhere to the law to satisfy the needs of senior rights holders. “We’re not interested in putting anybody else out of business,” said Tim Buchanan, an attorney for Harmony Ditch Company, a contingent of alfalfa farmers in Logan County. “We just want our share of the water.” The decision ultimately shut down or severely curtailed pumping at 4,000 area wells, said Doug Sinor, a water court attorney. As many as 2,000 farmers were affected: Potatoes, corn, beans, cabbage and sugar beets all dried up.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

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