Restrictions on pumping out of the South Platte River likely won’t change for the better, Bird said.
“It’s been to the Supreme Court of Colorado, and the restrictions will remain in place,” he said.
Everyone using well water has to have an “augmentation plan” on file with the Colorado Division of Water Resources. Such a plan is designed to protect existing water rights by replacing water used in a new project, the department said.
The bureau notes that 91% of Coloradans get their domestic water from surface supplies, while the other 9% rely on groundwater tapped by wells.
Avondale, Colo.-based Rusler Produce, which had more than 110 acres of onions in 2012, opted out of the deal this year, said Tommy Rusler, manager.
It was all due to lack of water.
“We knew the situation we were coming into when it was time to plant, and we didn’t have enough water to plant an onion crop,” he said.
The company, instead, will rely on its long-running pinto bean program, which is more amenable to dry conditions, Rusler said.
“We keep that going strong, so that will stay the same,” he said, adding that the current drought is “as bad as anybody can remember.”
Rusler said his company hopes the drought breaks by next April, when it’s time to decide whether to plant another onion crop.