What is the strategy for Arkansas Valley agriculture?

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

[Retired Lamar Community College teacher Fred Heckman of McClave] has been attending water meetings throughout the Arkansas Valley on behalf of the Fort Lyon Canal Co. for several years, with one goal in mind: To make better use of water. The idea was first proposed at a Fort Lyon meeting in 2004, by Heckman’s son Bert and others in an independent shareholders group that resisted selling to High Plains A&M (now Pure Cycle), but liked the idea of finding more profitable uses for water. The stated goal of High Plains, which had purchased about one-quarter of the ditch’s shares by 2003, was to move water to growing Front Range communities through a pipeline. Pure Cycle has continued with that goal, but has been more open to efforts like Super Ditch that could use its water resources within the valley. The shareholders group from the beginning wanted to expand the horizons of Fort Lyon shareholders beyond the flood irrigation that has dominated valley agriculture for more than 140 years…

Heckman is among those who have joined Super Ditch, a water leasing cooperative that would allow farmers to hold onto their water rights while selling some of the water under contract. “Leasing water would put a cushion of income under the farming operation to help the farmer withstand weather losses and variable prices,” Heckman said. Heckman is wary of new state consumption rules that target improvements on farms like sprinklers and drip irrigation using surface water. The rules ultimately will add costs for farmers who already operate on a thin margin. “Government involvement, no matter what department it comes from, is as much a threat to the farmers survival as the weather and price variation,” Heckman said. “Micro-managing the farmer is coming.”

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.

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