Save water or pay in cash in CA, environmental problems in CO

By: Amy Lipman Email
By: Amy Lipman Email

MESA COUNTY, Colo. Wasting water outside could come with a $500 price tag in California now after state water regulators decided to use fines to push people to conserve water for the drought.

Even though Colorado water regulators haven't had to enforce such a measure during local droughts, it's serving as a reminder here to always be saving the resource.

Orchards use a good chunk of the area's water for crops, but farmers are taking steps to cut down no wasting the precious resource.

"I just installed a bunch of drip irrigation this Spring, which uses less than half the water that we used to use when we flooded everything," said Robert Helmer, of Alida's Fruits.

Drip irrigation systems bring water right to the root of the plants.

"Water whether it's on the flat, on the steep slope, or on clay or in gravel," Helmer said. "Each plant gets the same amount of water."

Low-pressure sprinkler systems in orchards keep the water on the trees and not evaporating up into the air.

"It sprays right on the ground, so there's no evaporation hardly and loss of water," he said. "It waters just the rows of trees where they need the water."

Water saving efforts are felt locally and also in other parts of the country.

"All those lower basins, they are depending on these headwater states to supply them with their water, so we need to be responsible with what we're using here so we can meet our state compacts for the lower basin," said Joseph Burtard, of Ute Water Conservancy District.

Homeowners can play their part by turning off sprinklers when it's raining, checking the direction of sprinkler heads and only watering before 10 a.m.

"By preparing now we can prepare for the future for when we do face a situation or water crisis like California is facing," Burtard said.

The Grand Valley is below average for rainfall with only .02 inches of water so far in July compared to an average of .25 inches at this point in the month.

June was also drier than usual at .35 inches of rain below average. However, the extra snow pack this winter is helping to keep the area out of a drought for now.

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