Monday, January 28, 2013

The water woes of Eddy County: Now entering the third year, severe drought is forcing area farmers to make tough decisions

On his family farmlands in the Otis area, Walterscheid is more fortunate. There, he has three supplemental wells he can turn on. But he worries what is going to happen to the water table when other farmers with supplemental wells turn them on. The cost of farming has also gone up because of the drought. "I heard that the CID is only going to give us .08 acre-feet per acre this year," Walterschied said. "That's nothing. In good years when there is water, we are allocated up to 3.697 acre- feet per acre. Our plan is to cut back on planting. Normally, we would plant about 100 acres in hay and cotton. Last year we pumped water because we didn't get a good water allotment. But it was costly electricity wise. Maintenance of the pumps is also expensive. I'm not talking fixing something on the surface. It's the down-in-the-ground pumps that are expensive to fix. You have to pull the pumps and repair them when they go out. Still, I'm glad we have the pumps. Farmers without supplemental wells are really in dire hurt." This past year Walterscheid refurbished a dormant well so that he would have additional water for his crops. The well water is currently at a depth of 56 feet, but he fears that will drop drastically once pumping begins. CID water Dudley Jones, CID manager, said although there is a lot of speculation about the amount of the water allotment for this current growing season, it is too early to tell what the allotment amount will be. However, he concedes it probably won't be much if the heavens don't open up soon and bring the needed moisture. The CID Board of Directors will announce the allotment amount at its March 12 meeting, Jones said. Jones said 2013 is going to be even more challenging than 2012 was. He said there is not an infinite water supply and there will be more stress put on the all aquifers. "Already, some Eddy County farmers are having difficulty getting water out of their wells," Jones said...more

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