Rain spells relief in San Luis Valley

Much-hoped-for rain fell in Colorado’s San Luis Valley this summer, giving the region’s potato producers a much-needed respite from ongoing drought conditions and declining aquifer levels.

“The San Luis Valley has had a decent year so far in terms of surface water flows. For the first time in the last several years, stream flow amounts were near normal through most of the irrigation season,” said Craig Cotton, Div. 3 district engineer with the Colorado State Engineer’s office in Alamosa, CO. “This was due mainly to the wet fall that we experienced last year and the summer monsoons that have occurred recently.”

Earlier this year, Cotton reported that conditions in the Rio Grande River Basin were dire. “We have a low of 66 percent of average to a high of 97 percent of average,” he told The Produce News in early January. “We’re the lowest basin the state.”

Increased precipitation has had a meaningful impact. “Because of this surface water availability, the wells have had to pump less than normal amounts for portions of the season,” Cotton said. “In addition, we have seen an increase in the aquifer levels in the valley. This will aid in the recovery of the aquifers back to a long-term sustainable condition.”

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