From the La Junta Tribune-Democrat (Candace Krebs):
For now, there’s no significant drought relief in sight and no reason for area farmers to shift out of drought survival mode. That’s the verdict of Dana Barth, conservationist with the Northeast Prowers Conservation District, who recently hosted a drought management meeting in Holly attended by around 60 producers.
Brian Bledsoe, a meteorologist based in Colorado Springs who has been giving dismal weather outlooks since last winter, saw no reason to change his tune during a presentation to the group.
“There’s nothing coming our way from what he’s seeing in his crystal ball,” Barth said. “Any rain is going to be scattered, none of the long soaking rains we would need to bring us out of the drought.”[…]
Even irrigated farmers in the area are running short of water. The Lower Arkansas Water Management Association, based in Lamar, has set restrictions on wells and ditch irrigation to honor a decades-old water compact with Kansas, Barth noted. However, farmers across the state border aren’t much better off, she added.
For now, most farmers are still able to joke that every day is one day closer to rain. But she also described them as “guarded,” wrestling with what to do next and with fear of the unknown.
Mental health professionals recommend farmers avoid becoming isolated by despair.
Here’s a guest post written by Taryn Finnessey (Colorado Water Conservation Board) that is running on the Denver Water Mile High Water Talk blog. Here’s an excerpt:
The Arkansas River basin, home to Colorado Springs, Pueblo and the delicious Rocky Ford cantaloupe has been hit the hardest with 40 of the last 49 months below average for precipitation — a total deficit of 22 inches. Over the last 13 months, Lamar has received a mere 5.81 inches of precipitation, and only about an inch since the beginning of the calendar year. The lack of precipitation, thousands of acres of failed crops (land where it is too dry to plant) and the warm summer temperatures have created the perfect conditions for dust storms that have battered the region.
The Rio Grande has also suffered since 2011, and spring streamflows this year have been well below normal. Many farmers and ranchers in the region said that they have never fully recovered from the 2002 drought. Reservoir storage is well below average at 54 percent, and streamflow forecasts are lower than 50 percent.
Over the last two years drought conditions in southwestern Colorado have been a mixed bag. The area has been fortunate enough to get some sizable winter snowstorms, but the hot summers have led to reports of drought impacts (including fires) affecting nearly all sectors. The Four Corners area remains dry, and the U.S. Drought Monitor has increased the severity of its drought classification from “severe” to “extreme.”
Even though each area has a unique situation, drought conditions persist across the entire state, and many municipalities have implemented water restrictions. To help customers determine what restrictions exist in their neighborhoods, the state has developed a Web portal at http://www.COH2O.co.