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Shrinking Aquifers

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The agricultural economy in the San Luis Valley depends on groundwater aquifers to provide a significant and dependable water supply but those aquifers are being depleted faster than they can be recharged. Farmers in the Valley face an uncertain future and are racing to implement a plan that will balance and recover this vital resource.

 Shriver CDA
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Pair Sound with Sight

Steve Vandiver

Steve Vandiver, General Manager of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District in his office in Alamosa. He is charged with stopping the depletion of the aquifer in the San Luis Valley and is working to create subdistricts.

 

Shriver 1 Shriver 2 Shriver Hyrdo pump

Karla Shriver beside one of the many pivot sprinkler systems she uses to irrigate her farm's 1,000 acres of potatoes, small grains and hay.  She irrigates her land with water from  ditches and the aquifer. 

 

Karla Shriver's farm is just north of Alamosa, Colorado. Here, Shriver is standing by a pumping system that draws water from the aquifer.

 

A hydro pump meter which shows how much water Shriver draws from the aquifer. She is concerned about aquifer depletion and is working to make her water use more efficient.

 

Shriver ditch

One of the irrigation ditches on Shriver's farm.  The ditches run dry by the end of May, which means Shriver relies solely on the aquifer for irrigation water for most of the Summer.

 

Shriver CDA Shriver potatoes
A Colorado Department of Agriculture inspector examines potatoes from Karla Shriver's farm. A conveyor belt transports potatoes from Shriver's storage shed to a bagging operation.  This load of potatoes is headed for North Carolina.

Take the Next Step: Read

The Colorado Foundation for Water Education offers various resources to help you speak fluently about aquifers & groundwater. Check out the following:

 

Connecting the Drops Partners

Connecting the Drops is a radio collaboration between Water Education Colorado and Colorado Community Radio Stations KGNU, KDNK and KRCC.


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