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Tough decisions near for northern Colorado farmers

6:26 PM, Mar 18, 2013   |    comments
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BERTHOUD - Decision time is nearing in Northern Colorado.

The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District board of directors is a few weeks away from deciding how much water farmers will receive for their crops. That decision will impact what farmers will plant or even if they will plant.

"The next couple of weeks before our board of directors sets quota on April 12, is going to be critical for what happens in the mountains," Brian Werner, spokesperson for Northern Water, said.

While March has increased the snowpack in the area almost 10 percent, the reservoirs are still below average.

"Our reservoirs are almost 25 percent below average for this time of year and almost 50 percent below where they were a year ago," Werner said.

With water storage so far below average farmers in northern Colorado are making plans for dealing with a limited amount of water.

"Whatever we plant, we need to make sure we have enough water to take care of," Larimer County farmer Bill Markham said.

Markham's family has been farming for more than 100 years. He believes he will have enough water to successfully deliver his barley and sugar beet crops, but he has doubts about the rest.

"Right now, as far as our corn, we won't know if we're going to have any water to plant corn. I can't answer that. It doesn't look like we will. We're going to have to leave ground idle, not plant it at all," Markham said.

Northern Water is continuing to monitor the snowpack and projections for runoff. The board of directors decision on April 12 will be made with eye on the impact it will have on this year and the future.

"The big factor for our board isn't just 2013. They're thinking 2014 and even 2015, and they have to make sure there's water available to get by in the future years," Werner said.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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