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Family Farm Alliance Representatives Highlight Agriculture Needs at Colorado River Symposium



wo key leaders of the Family Farm Alliance (Alliance) spoke today before a prestigious  conference on Colorado River issues. Alliance President Patrick O’Toole (SAVERY, WYOMING) and Advisory Committee member John Sullivan (PHOENIX, ARIZONA) addressed attendees at the Colorado River Project Symposium, September 28-30th in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The theme of the symposium – hosted by the Water Education Foundation - was “Sharing the Risks:  Shortage, Surplus and Beyond.”

O’Toole and Sullivan were part of a panel addressing “The Future of Agriculture in the Colorado River Basin”. They spoke to an audience of water managers, power managers, lawyers, educators and others interested in the issues surrounding the Colorado River and its role in providing water to the West.

O’Toole told the group that the Alliance membership is concerned by the growing trend toward the transfer of agricultural water to municipal and industrial uses.  He emphasized the need for additional water storage and described the data base developed by the Alliance to identify potential projects in the Western states.

“The drought has accelerated by 20 years the need for action on problems brought about by increased demands on the River,” said O’ Toole.  He also pointed out that the dewatering of agriculture does not benefit wetlands and fisheries. 

“It puts houses on farmland,” he said.

O’Toole noted that farmers and agricultural producers had largely been referred to in the abstract throughout the course of the Sante Fe conference.

“We are real people doing real things with real land and water,” he told the group.

He cautioned that farmland and irrigation water needs to be protected from the demands of unrestrained growth.

“We have already reached the point of regret in many parts of the Colorado River Basin,” he said.

Sullivan said that he had been invited to speak because the Salt River Project (SRP), where he is Associate General Manager, is the “poster child” for transfers of agricultural water to urban areas. He expressed concern that in a few years, the SRP would cease to provide water to agriculture, in order to meet new demands exerted by development.

Mark Limbaugh, former Alliance President and current Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, Department of Interior, was the featured dinner speaker at the meeting.

 The Family Farm Alliance is a grassroots-based organization of agricultural water users and agencies, and water and farm-related businesses in 17 Western States.

For more information on the Family Farm Alliance please go to www.familyfarmalliance.org.





Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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