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Irrigation Repairs Needed Before Spring Runoff

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BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – This week marks the six month anniversary since the floods devastated Colorado, and while the state has seen recovery there is still a lot to do.

Much of the infrastructure that irrigates Colorado farmlands was destroyed last September, and people are racing against the clock before the spring runoff.

This year those who rely on the snowpack will get their share, but the problem is getting that water where it needs to be.

Long Gardens, a flower business in Boulder, has been blooming for more than 100 years.

“We grow usually about 2,000 different varieties at any one time,” said Catherine Long Gates from Long Gardens.

They are wondering if their 25 acres of flowers will be able to get the water they need.

Sean Cronin of the Saint Vrain and Left Hand Water Conservancy District said irrigating crops in Colorado “is absolutely critical.” He says getting the irrigation infrastructure intact and running is a No. 1 priority.

The floods wiped out dozens of floodgates and diversions. This included the main highland ditch system in Lyons, which provided water to about 40,000 acres of farmland and rural communities.

Most areas have been quick to repair damages and are expecting many of the water ditches to be ready by April 1.

Other areas, such as those near the Big Thompson and Saint Vrain water districts, may not be ready until October.

“That’s an example of the magnitude that we were looking at,” said Cronin.

Water experts will be watching the spring runoff very closely and probably won’t know until 2015 exactly how much work still needs to be done.

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