WELD COUNTY, CO – The Weld County Commissioners have formally requested a meeting with Governor John Hickenlooper to ask for immediate action regarding the disaster emergency declared yesterday at the Commissioners’ Board Meeting.
On June 11, 2012, the Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution declaring a disaster emergency for Weld County and asked Governor Hickenlooper to order the pumping of some of the 8,400 restricted irrigation wells for 30 days to provide relief from emergency conditions.
“This is a situation that requires immediate attention,” said Commissioner Chairman Sean Conway. “If water isn’t made available to the farmers in Weld County within the next couple of weeks, crops will fail and the economic impact will be felt throughout the state.”
The letter was sent to the Governor’s Office this afternoon.
In the request for a meeting, the letter notes that the action is necessary to avoid the current disaster from getting worse to the county, which is the state’s largest agricultural county, producing over $1.4 billion to the state economy.
As the Gazette previously reported, area farmers have testified on multiple occasions that the situation is desperate.
At Monday’s meeting where the commissioners approved the resolution, Doug Meyer a local farmer testified how he used to feed 5,000 cattle on his farm with his produce, but now does not have any livestock because he does not have the water to produce enough roughage to feed them. Another issue he faced was the high cost of augmentation fees.
“When the fees started, it cost us $300 for three wells. While we increased the efficiency of our watering by 70 percent, the cost of the fees subsequently rose to $10,000 for 2 wells,” he said. “We had to stop paying the fees and our wells were declared as abandoned. What is happening here today will not help me but we support it 100 percent, but something will need to done about these fees as well so people can use their property.”
Glen Fritzler, who manages the Fritzler Corn Maze said the state should listen to the warnings being sounded by the farmers because they were sounding a clarion call warning of impending disaster for the state if the wells were not allowed to be turned on.
“We are like the tsunami warning system. You may not hear it coming, but we farmers are sounding the warning to you,” he said. “The good news is this disaster, which is both natural and man-made with the turning off of the wells can be avoided and it won’t cost the taxpayers one dime. All we have to do is flip a switch.”