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Fallowing test project allocated CRD funds
In 2017, the Grand Valley Water Users Associa on (GVWUA) conducted a temporary agricultural fallowing program to save 3,200 acre feet of conserved consumptove use normally applied to crops. It was an experiment in water banking — to see how a program to send saved water to bolster Lake Powell might work.
GVWUA is extending the program to the 2018 growing season and received a $50,000 contribu on from the Colorado River District Board of Directors toward the program’s $1 million budget.
Mark Harris, GVWUA General Manager, told the Board that a second year is needed to con nue learning the lessons of fallowing and to broaden the knowledge of it among water users who are watching how this program might work for them.
Harris said that the Drought Contingency Plans (DCP) being developed by the Upper Division states and the Lower Division states to address low levels at Lakes Powell and Mead have put a “clearer focus” on demand management, which means reduced use by agricultural and municipal water users.
“The implications for the Colorado River District, its cons tuents and the GVWUA is that they will be majorly impacted” if demand management becomes necessary, Harris said. “We don’t need to do this for the Lower Basin’s benefit, we need to do this for our own benefit.”
Harris said that if West Slope interests don’t try to come up with a plan for how demand management might work, “others will be making those plans for us.” He said it was important to figure out how irrigators could par cipate in such a plan “in a way that does not ravage agriculture and does not ravage the West Slope.”
He said the 2018 program will keep the conversa ons about these issues moving forward and will advance the learning in economics, agronomics and the political implications.