The Arkansas Valley Super Ditch is ‘adding another crop to our rotation’

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From the Associated Press via the Houston Chronicle:

The three-year project would pay farmers to dry up some of their land on a rotating basis and let cities temporarily lease the unused water. “Water is the most valuable thing we have. It’s what I have to have to make a living,” said Lamar-area corn and hay producer Dale Mauch, vice president of the Lower Arkansas Valley Super Ditch Co., which is working on the project…

Proponents aim to sign contracts with about 10 farmers by October for the first year of the project. Each farmer would fallow about 33 acres in 2012 to divert a total 500 acre-feet of water — enough for about 1,000 households — to Pueblo Reservoir…

Project organizers expect to file a plan in December with the state engineer’s office to allow for the farmers’ water to be used by communities in El Paso and Douglas counties. By 2014, 30 to 50 farmers and perhaps six water providers could be signed on, said project consultant Heath Kuntz of Adaptive Resources Inc. A permanent lease-fallowing program would require a trip through water court to resolve issues over farm-to-city water transfers, or perhaps a change in state law…

Participating farmers would receive $500 per acre-foot from municipal water providers. That means that on average, a farmer would receive $945 per acre that is dry for a year, Kuntz estimated. “It’s just like selling another crop. We’re adding a crop to our rotation, and we still own the water. Now I have alfalfa, corn and water to sell,” said John Schweizer, who produces wheat and has about 200 cows in Rocky Ford.

More Arkansas Valley Super Ditch Company coverage here.

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