Community Agriculture Alliance: Preparing for drought
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Although it is only February and the snow is still falling outside, drought is already weighing heavy on everyone’s mind. Agricultural producers have undoubtedly started planning for the potential of yet another dry summer, but local landowners and those hoping to purchase property in the Yampa Valley also should be prepared.
Despite a decent snowpack going into spring 2020, a couple of hot and dry summer months resulted in the Yampa River below Stagecoach Reservoir going on call last August. The administrative call was only the second in history for this stretch of the Yampa River; the first call occurred just two years earlier in 2018. While administration on this stretch of the Yampa River may be a new concept for many landowners, it is unlikely that we will be able to avoid it in the future.
Future administration on the river may require local landowners with non-exempt wells that fall out of priority to augment their water use when the river goes on call. Luckily, the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District (UYWCD) has an umbrella augmentation plan that could help landowners on both the Yampa and Elk rivers.
Augmentation water for residences and commercial businesses is available through UYWCD if your property falls within the augmentation boundary. Water uses covered by UYWCD’s augmentation plan may include domestic use, lawn irrigation, vegetable gardens, well ponds and livestock watering just to name a few.
The first step in the augmentation application process is verifying if your property falls within the augmentation boundary. Once verified, applicants will need to identify all water uses and include them on their application. If you are unsure of your well permit status or if your property may require augmentation water, you can contact the Division 6 office of the Colorado Division of Water Resources. If you are interested in applying for augmentation water, please contact UYWCD at 970-871-1035 or email Holly Kirkpatrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to augmentation water, UYWCD also has stored water available for agricultural, municipal and industrial use. If you would like to inquire about a stored water contract, contact UYWCD at 970-871-1035.
Holly Kirkpatrick is public information and external affairs manager for the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District.
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