Colorado Drought: High And Dry

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - 12:44pm

Worsening drought and tight water restrictions take their toll.

Drought is wreaking havoc on crops across the country.

In Colorado, a combination of drought and restrictions on groundwater use is leading to big problems for farmers.

David Eckhardt planted roughly 1,500 acres of corn this Spring.

When his surface water supply ran out two weeks ago, he was forced to make a very tough decision.

He's walking away from one third of his crop.

Roughly 500 acres of corn is being left to die.

"It is terrible. I farm with my dad and brother. The meetings that we have, it's almost like planning a funeral," Eckarhdt says.

Because of the drought, farmers like Eckhardt are no longer receiving irrigation water from the rivers.

A 2006 ruling by a state water court severely restricts the water he can pump from underground aquifers.

"It's difficult when you come out and look during the day and see the condition that the field's in, knowing that there's a solution," he says.

While the pumping restrictions are in place to protect the aquifer and water rights holders downstream, farmers say the aquifer is so full that farmers like Glen Fritzler are forced to pump water out of their basements.

"This is like starving to death in a grocery store. We have the ability, we had the ability to save a crop. This wouldn't be a reality right now," Eckhardt says.

But it is an economic reality that will be felt throughout the community.

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