Saturday, September 25, 2021 11:56 pm

Water trauma: Apprehensive farmers could face radical shortages

Dan Thelander operates a farm outside the City of Maricopa in Pinal County. If a shortage is declared on the Colorado River, his farm will lose some of its water and have to adjust operations. /Photo by Rachel Leingang/Arizona Capitol Times, with permission
Dan Thelander operates a farm outside the City of Maricopa in Pinal County. If a shortage is declared on the Colorado River, his farm will lose some of its water and have to adjust operations. /Photo by Rachel Leingang/Arizona Capitol Times, with permission

By Rachel Leingang | Arizona Capitol Times

For farmers like Dan Thelander, it’s a waiting game.

The Colorado River may see a shortage as soon as next year, and the probability of one in 2017 jumps to 61 percent. If Lake Mead’s water level drops below 1,075 feet, agricultural users of Central Arizona Project water will see a big cut.

Thelander runs a 5,000-acre farm outside the city of Maricopa, where he grows alfalfa, durum wheat, cotton, corn and barley. To water the crops, Thelander gets about 4 acre-feet of water per acre he farms from the Maricopa-Stanfield Irrigation and Drainage District. He also sits on the district’s board.

Should a shortage be declared, Thelander will have to make some tough decisions.

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