Water under Colorado’s Eastern Plains running dry as farmers keep irrigating “great American desert”

WRAY — Colorado farmers who defied nature’s limits and nourished a pastoral paradise by irrigating drought-prone prairie are pushing ahead in the face of worsening environmental fallout:

Overpumping of groundwater has drained the High Plains Aquifer to the point that streams are drying up at the rate of 6 miles a year. The drawdown has become so severe that highly resilient fish are disappearing, evidence of ecological collapse.

A Denver Post analysis of federal data shows the aquifer shrank twice as fast over the past six years compared with the previous 60. While the drying out of America’s agricultural bread basket ($35 billion in crops a year) ultimately may pinch people in cities, it is hitting rural areas hardest.

“Now I never know, from one minute to the next, when I turn on a faucet or hydrant, whether there will be water or not. The aquifer is being depleted,” said Lois Scott, 75, who lives west of Cope, north of the frequently bone-dry bed of the Arikaree River. A 40-foot well her grandfather dug by hand in 1914 gave water until recently, she said, lamenting the loss of lawns where children once frolicked and green pastures for cows. Scott […]

More about the Colorado River water and the state of Colorado:

PARCHED: Climate change and growth are pushing Colorado toward a water crisis

Plan for Colorado River draws on Blue Mesa, Flaming Gorge reservoirs

The Colorado River is evaporating, climate change largely to blame

Water a focus for growing northern Colorado communities

To Save Their Water Supply, Colorado Farmers Taxed Themselves

U.S.A. and Mexico agree to share a shrinking Colorado River

Rising temperatures sucking water out of the Colorado River

Colorado River v. State of Colorado

SCOTUS: Upstream States to Reduce River Usage, Aid Downstream States in Drought

Article Name
Water under Colorado’s Eastern Plains running dry as farmers keep irrigating “great American desert”
Farmers overpumping groundwater drains the High Plains Aquifer. Streams are drying up at six miles per year. Even highly resilient fish are disappearing.
Publisher Name
The Denver Post
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