DENVER – Senate President Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont) wrote to Boulder Mayor Matthew Appelbaum and the Boulder City Council today to encourage their help and cooperation in leasing or selling water rights to farmers in Weld County who are facing extraordinary drought conditions. The willingness of senior water rights holders to accommodate the critical needs of these local farmers may be the key to ensure these farms survive through this crisis.
Today, President Shaffer offered the following comment on the severe effects of the drought:
“At this moment, farmers have a critical need for water for crops. I urge you to reach out to the Weld County Commissioners to facilitate this much-needed relief and to offer a helping hand to our friends and neighbors in need.”
Weld County Commissioners have recently declared the drought a disaster emergency. A catastrophic crop loss will hurt individual farms, farm suppliers and whole communities. The Governor and his staff have held meetings seeking a solution, but no compromise has been reached.
In the letter to Boulder Mayor Appelbaum, President Shaffer said he believes the city holding senior water rights may provide the basis for such a compromise, and that a relatively modest amount of water over a short period of time would avert the crisis. He urged the Boulder Mayor and City Council to help facilitate much needed relief and to take action immediately.
Weld County farmer Dave Eckhardt offered the following comment:
“I appreciate Senator Shaffer’s efforts and hope the City of Boulder will give his letter serious consideration.”
Below is the full text of the letter President Shaffer sent to Mayor Appelbaum:
Dear Mayor Appelbaum,
We are in an extraordinary time of water shortage in the state. While some regions of our State thrive, others struggle to survive. Today, our neighbors in Weld County confront one of the worst droughts in the State’s history. Ours is an economy that benefits significantly from farming and production agriculture, and it is hurting.
Farmers who planted grain and vegetable crops believing they could use their own wells to water their crops were ordered to stop pumping. The order to shut off the wells came from the State Water Engineer.
In the meantime, millions of dollars of crops will wither and die. And with this crop loss will come enormous economic losses to local suppliers, local businesses and their communities. These communities are our friends, neighbors and fellow Coloradans.
The solution lies in cooperation. The solution comes from flexibility of those who have senior water rights. They have the ability to share, to lease and to release their senior appropriated rights to the farmers who need water to save thousands of acres of crops.
The City of Boulder has senior water rights and can be part of the solution. The basic tenet of Colorado water law is that it be for the beneficial use of the people of the State. Farmers produce the food, fuel and fiber that provide us all a high quality of life.
At this moment, farmers have a critical need for water for crops. I urge you to reach out to the Weld County Commissioners to facilitate this much-needed relief and to offer a helping hand to our friends and neighbors in need.
/s/ Brandon C. Shaffer
Download a copy of President Shaffer's letter