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Source: HypnoArt/Pixabay

Why This Program Pays Farmers To Stop Using Water

By Brian Spaen

Can you imagine being paid as a farmer to not water your crops? That’s exactly what’s happened with some ranchers along the Colorado River with the System Conservation Pilot Program. Four water companies and the Bureau of Reclamation teamed up to limit water usage to prevent a disastrous shortage of water for many western states.

A drought along the Colorado River has been unfolding since the turn of the millennium, but observations were stepped up in 2014. Lake Mead and Lake Powell are the biggest pockets of water along the river, and those levels dropped to below half their capacity. There was simply no backup plan if the shrinkage continued and the population in the area lost their water supply.

That became a major problem when looking at long-term forecasts, showing that the air was going to get even drier and more evaporation would occur. This led to tighter restrictions for the lower basin states like Nevada and California. Las Vegas, which gets 90 percent of its drinking water from Lake Mead, forced wastewater reuse and encouraged homeowners to ditch their lawns.