Irrigation return flows sustain the wetlands around John Martin Reservoir according to Arkansas Basin Roundtable report

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“The irrigation returns nearly match the wetlands evapotranspiration, so it’s a good indication of why the wetlands are there,” said Hal Simpson, a former state engineer who works for CDM engineering. The roundtable is looking at wetlands near John Martin Reservoir and at Nee Noshe, in Kiowa County, as part of its effort to identify nonconsumptive water needs in the Arkansas River basin.

Nee Noshe is a different situation. It’s significant among the numerous shallow lakes on the Eastern Plains because threatened species like the piping plover and least tern live there, said SeEtta Moss, of the Arkansas Valley Audubon Society. Nee Noshe has shrunk over the past 10 years to about one-fifth of its dead pool — the point where water can no longer flow out — and is evaporating. It would take about 1,000 acre-feet annually to sustain it, but the water is not available through the Amity Canal.

Simpson said the wetlands at John Martin developed before the reservoir started filling after 1948. “They were not dry and existed independent of John Martin Reservoir,” Simpson said, explaining that wildlife habitat expanded in the valley after irrigation began.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.

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