WELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Many farmers in Weld County say they stand to lose millions upon millions of dollars worth of crops unless they get irrigation water — and fast.
A group petitioned Gov. John Hickenlooper to allow them to take water from an underground aquifer but it was denied. He said he doesn’t have the authority to allow them to draw water from the aquifer because it legally belongs to other people and municipalities.
Farmers usually use irrigation water that comes from snowmelt to grow their crops, but this year, since the snowpack was well below average, that water is literally running dry and they’ll soon be out.
Ironically, the aquifer below the farms is so full that basements are beginning to flood. The growers asked the governor to allow them to use the water for just 30 days. Right now they’re restricted from using it for anything other than household needs.
The growers say they would only use half of one percent of that supply and that without it the financial loss will be devastating.
“Without a doubt a hundred million dollars will be lost along the Front Range if something isn’t done very soon,” Weld County farmer Glen Fritzler said.
The growers are asking that the governor take another look at the laws. Weld County commissioners have already declared the county a disaster area because of the drought.