Spring 2013 brought more than a foot of snow to Colorado, but the drought status persists, driving the cost of water up and affecting small farms’ bottom lines.
Demand for water swells with population growth, which is on a continual rise – almost half a million more people live in Colorado than did six years ago, for a total of almost 5.2 million, according to the 2012 U.S. Census. Meeting high water demand depends heavily on how much snow falls in the mountains in winter, and farmers know that less snow can dictate crop yields.
Statewide, snowpack has reached 86 percent of normal, thanks to spring snowfall. Seeing the majority of snowpack in March and April is a welcome last minute contribution to the reservoirs, and has potential to keep farms in sufficient supply of water throughout the growing season.
“That’s what saved us in the 2003 drought season,” said Eric Wilkinson, the general manager of Northern Water, a public water conservation district based in Berthoud, Colo.