Colorado legislator Jerry Sonnenberg working to prevent the next drought disaster

5:29 PM, Nov 22, 2012   |    comments
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"Short term, I think what we've got to do is give farmers and ranchers alternatives to how they can use their water, give them the opportunity, if they don't have enough water to make a crop to lease water and make it easier for them to lease water," Jerry Sonnenberg, a representative of House District 65, said. "Long term, we've got to build water storage."

Because of significant limitations on how much ground water they can pump, corn farmers in Weld County were forced to walk away from large portions of their crops this year.

"There was an awful lot of unnecessary suffering up here," Glenn Fritzler, a Weld County corn farmer, said.

Given the economic impact the losses by agriculture have on the entire state, Fritzler is hoping the state legislature will now act.

"The drought of 2012 was, in a way, a blessing in disguise. It opened up a lot of people's eyes. We've got the attention of the state," Fritzler said.

Sonnenberg knows the challenges of getting the legislature to tackle the contentious subject of water rights in Colorado, but he thinks the fresh wounds this year's drought caused may change that.

"Typically the answer is 'No,' but ... I think we immediately after we have a crisis - and we've had a crisis now with the drought - people's awareness is heightened. Maybe we can have that conversation now and we can find that common ground and solution," Sonnenberg said.

The first session of the 69th General Assembly will convene on Jan. 9, 2013.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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