The city of Boulder has only recorded .01 inches of rain this month, and there has been no measurable snowfall so far in what is typically the snowiest month of the year, according to meteorologist Matt Kelsch. Should it not rain or snow in the next three days — which Kelsch said is very likely — it will be Boulder’s driest March in recorded history. The previous record was .05 inches of rain in 1910.
In January, the organic farm advocate traveled to New York to lend his support — and testimony, if needed — to a federal court case brought by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association against Monsanto. Hobbs was not called on to testify during the oral arguments, but joined about 200 others from food safety groups and Occupy Wall Street in a rally near the courthouse after the courtroom action wrapped up. The farmers lost their challenge to Monsanto’s patents on genetically engineered seed on Feb. 24. Monsanto admitted to filing 144 lawsuits between 1997-2010 and settled another 700 cases out of court for undisclosed amounts with gag orders on the farmers, which the association says amounts to harassment of farmers. “Our goal is to protect farmers from patent infringement charges by Monsanto when their organic crops are contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically altered seed,” Hobbs said.
Last week, a federal appeals court agreed to hear an appeal of the New York decision…
“We believe the precautionary principle should be followed,” Hobbs said. “The first genetic crops appeared in the 1990s, and they pushed them without any review. Now, 94 percent of soy is genetically modified, and that wipes out the genetic diversity.”
For Hobbs, 43, who has farmed on 30 acres at Avondale since 2000, there is no direct threat to the types of food he grows, both as cash crops and for seed: garlic, squash, beans and vegetables. In all, he and partner Jamie Dunston raise seed for eight varieties of garlic and a couple dozen other vegetables.
Hobbs relocated to Pueblo after learning about organic farming and training others in Northern New Mexico in the late 1990s. He was lured here by the climate — cool nights, hot days during growing season — and plentiful water on the Bessemer Ditch.
The Northern Water Conservancy District runs the auction, offering excess water diverted from the Colorado River Basin — 25,000 acre-feet so far this year — and conveyed through a 13-mile tunnel under the Continental Divide. A growing portion of that water now will be pumped thousands of feet underground at well sites to coax out oil and gas.
State officials charged with promoting and regulating the energy industry estimated that fracking required about 13,900 acre-feet in 2010. That’s a small share of the total water consumed in Colorado, about 0.08 percent. However, this fast-growing share already exceeds the amount that the ski industry draws from mountain rivers for making artificial snow. Each oil or gas well drilled requires 500,000 to 5 million gallons of water. A Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission report projected water needs for fracking will increase to 18,700 acre-feet a year by 2015…
Riding his tractor this week, Colorado hay producer Lar Voss, who bid for water at the recent auction, accepted this approach. Voss bid for 100 acre-feet “to be sure I’ve got enough for the crops,” he said. Selling water to those who can pay the most “is what ought to happen.”[…]
At the recent auction, Fort Lupton-based A & W Water Service Inc. bid successfully for 1,500 acre-feet of water, paying about $35 per acre- foot. That’s slightly higher than the market price that irrigators pay for leasing water along the Front Range. The average price paid for water at NWCD’s auctions has increased from around $22 an acre-foot in 2010 to $28 this year.
A & W also leases water from Longmont, Loveland, Greeley and other cities — and hauls it to drilling sites.