WELD COUNTY, Colo. -- Glen Fritzler was born on his farm four miles south of La Salle, and wrote an open letter about the ongoing fight for water in Weld County. Fritzler said despite having plenty of ground water, he can't use any of it to water his crops because of a court ruling more than a decade ago.
Read Fritzler's full letter below:
The might South Platte River is but a trickle at the bridge just south of LaSalle. The effects of the drought of 2018 are starting to drastically affect farmers along the Front Range. Because the snow pack was a little bit below average, I decided not to plant approximately 14% of my plantable acreage. Doing that I'm still going to be very short of water.
There are mutual ditches that literally are completely out of water and a number of ditches have drastically reduced the amount of water they are delivering to Farmers.
During the Empire Lodge case, back in the early 2000's a judge took away the state engineer Authority to approve supplemental water supply plants. Ordered entities like Central Colorado Water Conservation District to get decrees in Water Court. That was literally like David going up against Goliath. Every municipality along the Front Range opposed Central and according to Dr. Waskom from CSU in his report House Bill 12 - 1278 those decrees were highly in favor of the municipalities.
Because of those decrees many irrigation Wells along the Front Range have been abandoned and others have had drastically reduced in their ability to pump even though groundwater levels are at all-time record highs. The alluvial aquifer is reported to be somewhere around 6 times the size of Lake McConaughy. Literally the ground water underneath me as I type this is 5 to 6 feet below the surface of the ground. I have water in my basement, my Foundation is cracking along with many many other problems. This is not an isolated problem. Towns like Gilcrest are experiencing tremendous Financial loss as are many others are from Brighton to Sterling.
Back in 2012 Well County Commissioners asked Governor Hickenlooper to allow some additional pumping during the drought on 2012. He did not, stating he did not have the authority. I have a asked State legislators to pass legislation giving him the authority each and every year since 2012. Most legislation that would have helped correct this problem has been rejected by legislators. It's unfortunate some legislators are benefiting personally as long as their constituents by leaving things as they are.
It's sad that many of the people that oppose changes that would correct this problem would rather send excess water to Nebraska then allow the Front Range Farmers to pump additional water.