GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX)—
Water is a hot topic in western Colorado. It always has been and likely always will be. But right now, drought conditions make thinking about water conservation natural. Assistant state climatologist Becky Bolinger says drought conditions are all too real. She told us, “Our state’s largest reservoir is Blue Mesa, and that one has been extremely, painfully low, partly because they’ve had to send water downstream to lake Powell, but also because it just hasn’t had the chance to recover from the 2020 drought situation.”
The people who manage our water are trying to improve our systems but there’s a lot to update. Mesa county’s irrigation districts have lined miles of their canals and Orchard Mesa Irrigation’s manager Max Schmidt says the benefits are huge, “Pretty much stops the seepage. We’ve had crops ruined because the water leached out of the canal and basically drowned the trees. We put concrete liners in. They’ve got good crops.”
There are still miles of canals left to line but that’s only the beginning of what max told me the ideal situation would be. He wants to “pipe all the canals from beginning to end.” That could be pretty far downstream though. Max says it’s taken 10 years to line 15 miles of the irrigation district’s 40 miles of canals with concrete. But piping the canals would change the system entirely and save huge amounts of water. Orchard Mesa Irrigation currently has plans to line 9 miles at the end of their system, in preserving grand junction’s water
Max told us, “The biggest thing the canals have done wrong in the grand valley, they deliver cheap, abundant water for a hundred years. And they’re the original aging infrastructure it’s time to pay the price and catch up.”
Protecting our water is a vital goal to the future of Grand Junction so catching up is a good idea.