From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
“One of the main reasons we started down this course was to get something done in a proactive way rather than responding to a crisis,” Wolfe said. “For legal and technical reasons, we decided to develop the rules now rather than wait until we had a situation like in 1985, when Kansas sued Colorado.” The state is mainly concerned about more than 100 sprinkler systems, now being used by about 70 farmers, throughout the Lower Arkansas Valley, east of Pueblo.
Of those, about 40 farmers have signed up for a plan by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District that the district fought to include in the rules during two years of meetings prior to their adoption. “What we are trying to do is give the softest landing possible for the farmers,” said Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Ark district. “I don’t agree with the rules, but this way the farmers can do what they do best, which is to farm, and we do what we do best, the paperwork.”
The district has received grants from the Colorado Water Conservation Board for the engineering necessary to set up the compliance plans and developed a fee structure for participants that reduces the individual cost of complying with the new rules. The district has hired an engineering consultant to crunch the numbers. “In the future, I hope that there are 1,000 of these, because sprinklers help the farmers, mainly in saving labor costs,” Winner said…
Bill Tyner, assistant division engineer, estimated there are between 65-70 farmers with 100-120 systems irrigating with sprinklers fed by ponds. Sprinklers and drip systems dating back to 1999 are covered by the rules. There are very few drip irrigation systems fed by surface sources. Either a group compliance plan or detailed engineering reports are needed in the valley’s major agricultural areas east of Pueblo, the focus of concern in complying with the Arkansas River Compact. General permits for improvements will suffice in other areas of the Arkansas River basin, which lets the state know where improvements have been made.