Facing Colorado River shortage, 30 urban suppliers pledge to target decorative grasses
With Colorado River supplies approaching a 30-year low, 30 urban suppliers have pledged to stop shipping the lawn/grasses that are the source of the drought stress.
“We are committed to working together to reduce this water problem in our cities and provide water more equitably across our community,” said John G. Kuehnle. The director of public affairs for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California said he has not heard of these suppliers but “will definitely check out the list.”
Colorado River supplies are set to run low at about 1 million acre-feet, or about 2,400 cubic-foot-per-second, in mid-August. That’s less than one-sixth of an acre-foot per second, the lowest level since the start of record-keeping in 1980. The water is required to run over the dams on the Colorado River and the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies most of the groundwater consumed by the agricultural industry, especially in Colorado.
The drought has brought the region into a crisis, but its effects have not yet been felt across the basin due to the huge supply and demand split between urban and rural customers. About 45 percent of California’s annual demand for water comes from Colorado River supply, which is consumed in a few counties.
State water districts have reduced their allocations of water to the Southern California water customers in an attempt to save storage capacity. But that has left some urban customers without water and threatens their ability to continue farming.
The threat of water shortages has forced California’s biggest agricultural industry, which is based on the Colorado River, to take drastic measures to keep the crop yields high, including limiting irrigation and using drip irrigation. That has pushed farmers in many of the smaller, rural counties to grow alternative crops.
Growers are also turning to a long list of alternative sources.
The most prominent among them is decorative grasses, which farmers grow more than 1,000 varieties. These include ornamental rugs,