Mike Downey

Mike Downey

In my previous article, “Water Smart Growth – the Key to Colorado’s Future”, I discussed methods for supporting Colorado’s water conservation efforts, including the collection and use of rainwater.

 

If 2 million Colorado newcomers wind up in suburban developments, water resources in rural Colorado could be in serious trouble. In a typical Front Range suburb, most residents live on large lots with beautiful Kentucky Blue Grass lawns. Kentucky Blue Grass grows great — in Kentucky, where annual precipitation averages 40 inches a year. Here in Colorado, where precipitation is only 14 inches annually, this type of grass requires a lot of supplemental watering. Non-native lawns and trees often require a tremendous amount of water to survive – water that can only arrive by way of water transfers away from productive agriculture.

As a youngster who spent his childhood summers playing in the irrigation ditches at my grandparent’s Southern Colorado cattle ranch, I realized at an early age the importance of water to the health and livelihood of rural Colorado. This has been drawn into even tighter focus during my time working for San Isabel Land Protection Trust. Productive agriculture and ranching is impossible without good water rights.