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Montezuma County has declared a drought disaster – The Journal

State and federal programs offer drought assistance, emergency loans

Irrigation water sprayed beans northwest of Cortez in this file photo. Continued thirst has led to a severe water shortage for farmers this year. (Journal file)

A state emergency has been declared in Montezuma County due to repeated drought conditions.

The order passed by the Montezuma County Board of Commissioners on June 1 states the goal is to “activate the response and recovery aspects of any and all applicable local and inter -jurisdictional disaster emergency plans, and authorize the provision of assistance and assistance under such plans. “

Recent winters in Southwest Colorado have seen lower average snowpack below, and the lack of monsoonal rainfall has depleted soil moisture. The lack of rainfall is leaving reservoirs unfinished this year, a devastating impact for the agricultural economy.

“No water, no crops, no income,” county emergency manager Jim Spratlen said. “With the (disaster) declaration, we can go for some help.”

McPhee Reservoir irrigators will only receive 5-10% of their normal allocation this year, leaving thousands of acres free of charge.

Montezuma County has only had one good snow season (2018-19) in the past four years and has had summers, Peter Goble, a drought expert at the Colorado Climate Center, said at a meeting with officials of the province.

Most of the rainfall that fell was sucked up by dry lands and did not reach rivers and reservoirs, he said.

Disaster status will open up emergency assistance programs from provincial, state and federal agencies. It also helps the Dolores Water Conservancy District receive drought assistance from the Bureau of Reclaim, which owns the McPhee Reservoir infrastructure and its canals.

In May, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated Colorado’s 63 counties as major natural disaster areas due to severe drought conditions.

Emergency loans are available for manufacturers. Loans can be used to replace equipment or livestock, reorganize farm operations and refinance certain debts.

CSU Agriculture Extension provides education and connects farmers and ranchers with resources for drought management and assistance, said Greg Felsen, Montezuma County director and extension agent.

The forecast for a summer rainy season is unfavorable for Southwest Colorado, according to the National Weather Service.

Dry conditions are predicted in June, July and August, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Megan Stackhouse.

Monsoonal summer rains occur in the Southwest when atmospheric conditions allow a path for subtropical storms to flow north from Mexico and the Calulfian gulfs, he said.

They are partly dependent on the location and development of a high-pressure ridge in the Southwest, which helps to capture moisture from the south, but they can also deter storms if positioned too far to the west.

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