Farmers struggling to survive after state shuts off 400 wells |

Farmers struggling to survive after state shuts off 400 wells

DENVER – While Front Range cities this spring declared the drought over and lifted restrictions on lawn watering, farmers in northeastern Colorado looked for ways to keep their newly planted crops alive Thursday after the state engineer shut off 400 wells.The move enforces a new state law that requires farmers to replace the water they’re taking from the ground. State officials worked to get federal loans but admitted little can be done for some farmers, whose wheat, corn, beets and melons will be dead in a week.”Money is not the major issue, finding the water is the issue. Nobody is lining up to sell water these days,” said Dan Hopkins, spokesman for Gov. Bill Owens.Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, said state officials were caught by surprise when the snowpack in the basin went from 109 percent in April to 69 percent in May. He said the state engineer had no option but to shut the wells down under state law.”It just melted away. What gets us out of this is rain,” he said.Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, said he feels bad for the farmers who already planted their crops. He said state officials didn’t know they had a crisis until they saw the figures for the May snowpack, and by then, it was too late for those who already had crops in the ground.”It’s too bad it didn’t happen sooner, the state could have done this before they planted,” Taylor said.

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