Arizona farmers hopeful about feds loosening Colorado River water restrictions

The feds scaled back some water restrictions from the Colorado River and Arizona farmers say it's a welcomed relief.
Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 9:00 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - This year’s intense water cuts to the Colorado River have taken a toll on Arizona farmers but change might soon be coming. At the beginning of the year, the federal government cut 21% of Arizona’s water from the Colorado River after record low water levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the two reservoirs that feed the river.

Nancy Caywood’s farm in Casa Grande has 300 acres of land that rely on water from the Colorado. With the cuts this year, she said her crops are beginning to run dry. “Right now, the water is all off on one plot, so we don’t have any water coming to us and for another farm. Our allocation is running low as well,” she said.

When those water cuts hit, farmers were left with tough choices when it came to what they can and can’t farm because there wasn’t enough water to go around. “You pick and choose very carefully,” said Caywood.

The water situation at the Colorado River is finally looking a little better after a wet winter. Both Lake Mead and Lake Powell are now reporting higher levels. As a result, the federal government will be easing the restrictions for next year by only restricting 18% of the state’s water. Caywood is hoping this will trickle down to the farmers. “That would be a lot more water for us. Then we might be able to grow a couple crops again. So, we’ll just have to wait and see what they tell us,” she said.

Caywood wants to remind people how important Arizona farmers are. She grows alfalfa, corn and barley, among other things, most of which Valley businesses use. “There’s a lot of people that don’t think farmers should be on the desert but we can grow crops seasonally year round so we can provide a lot of food for the nation year round,” Caywood said.

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