Monday, October 23, 2006

Step Away From The Faucet: Water Spying in Colorado

Sometimes we in areas that are blessed with waters that are sufficient most of the time tend to forget the reality of water rights. Simply stated, when there's enough to go around, we don't fret over the subject.

Not so in Colorado, where the shortage of water in dry years has been a fighting issue ever since the farmers on the upper St. Vrain Creek blew up the dam belonging to the Left Hand Ditch Company in the 1880s. The same problem is in existence today as was noted in the Des Moines Register Sunday. However, as one goes farther west the detail develops complexity as the climate becomes drier.

As described in the Madison, South Dakota Daily Leader and other papers, three fast growing cities and some other owners of senior water rights hired private investigators to snoop on farmers who were allegedly continuing to pump water after the state engineer ordered farmers in the South Platte River basin to stop pumping based on estimates of lower flow. It is also noted that the cities-Boulder, Sterling, and Highland Ranch-rejected an emergency plan that would have allowed the farmers to continue to use the water.

The net effect is that millions of dollars in crops were left to die so that suburbanites could continue to water their unnaturally green lawns, hose down their driveways, wash their SUVs daily and water their golf courses.


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