Many of you have read about, or heard of the Bundy Ranch take over by the Feds…and some of you are even aware of the huge water issues that face our part of Colorado (I get emails from you letting me know that you are following the water cases evolving all over our part of the state), and some have asked me to explain or at least give you my opinion.
I do know that it is against the law to save any rain water, ever…no barrels under rain spouts, no water barrels with the rich, soft rainwater all capped and waiting for us to use in case of emergency. EVER!
Our water is destined to head into the Colorado river and flow right on down to California and the ocean. The Colorado is the mother of all rivers with its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains and flows to other states.
Right now water in our part of the state (the western part of Colorado has most of the water in the state of Colorado) is a private asset. Meaning that the water system that is in place ….PREDATES Colorado statehood. This system operates on the junior-senior water rights system. Whenever you filed on the water is where your water rights fall in the uses of rights. The oldest filing is first, then on down the line.
For us…the Uncompahgre Valley Water Company is the second oldest water right on the Gunnison River.
There are pressures building to abolish this system (private use) and making it a public asset under the Governance of the Governor of the state. (In a nutshell —as far as my meager brain understands— this means if Denver wants our water then the governor can take if from here and give it to them.)
Only somewhere around two percent of Colorado’s population are farmers, 98% or not farmers. Also, somewhere around 80% of the population is on the Front Range of Colorado. Our area, the Uncompahgre Valley has 80,000 acres of farmland….of which we are a part of that acreage. I really don’t know how much farm land there is on the eastern slope so I’m not going to give you any figures for that.
So, unless you have a crystal ball, I really don’t know what is going to happen here with the water. You know as much as I know right now. Every day we just rejoice with having the water to irrigate with, watching the rows fill up with the water and flow on down to the end of our field until it reaches the canal again, flowing onto the next farm and the next until it reaches the river. We will vote to keep our rights here and we will wake up every morning, head out to change the water, and we will plant and harvest and give thanks for that day!
Your friend on a Western Colorado Farm,