Arkansas Valley: Employing sprinklers or drip irrigation on the rise

Orr Manufacturing Vertical Impact Sprinkler circa 1928 via the Irrigation Museum
Orr Manufacturing Vertical Impact Sprinkler circa 1928 via the Irrigation Museum

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

An increasing number of farms are being included in group plans that replace water in the Arkansas River under rules adopted by the state in 2010. The so-called Rule 10 plans set out guidelines for replacement of water to account for on-farm improvements like sprinklers or drip irrigation that use surface water.

“We expect to see more over time,” said Steve Witte, Water Division 2 engineer. “That’s the way farmers are wanting to go. It seems to be a more effective way of utilizing water.”

The rules are set up to avoid depletions to the river through increased consumptive use, both for downstream users in Colorado and to satisfy Kansas under the Arkansas River Compact.

This year, three Rule 10 plans covering 129 farms have been filed with the state, an increase from two plans covering 109 farms in 2013. The state Division of Water Resources has until May 1 to approve or deny the plans, based on verification of engineering.

About 2,200 acre-feet (an acre-foot is 325,851 gallons) of water is needed to replace depletions based on calculations by engineers using state models. Those calculations could be changed this year as a study of leakage from storage ponds is completed.

Two plans were filed by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District. One covers 80 farms on the Fort Lyon Canal. The other covers 45 farms on other canals from Pueblo to Prowers County. A third plan was filed by the Lower Arkansas Water Management Association for four farms owned by GP Irrigated Farms LLC in Prowers County.

The state is looking at well augmentation plans as well, under Rule 14 of the 1996 groundwater rules for the Arkansas Valley. The validity of those plans should be decided by the end of this month.

Well plans include the three large groundwater associations (LAWMA, Colorado Water Protective and Development Association and Arkansas Groundwater Users Association) and some smaller plans for prisons, golf courses, cities and conservancy districts.

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here and here.

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