Conserving water on the south plains is top priority for a state senator from Lubbock. Senator Robert Duncan turned to area farmers for their input on a proposed water conservation project worth $10 million.
Both Senator Duncan and our area farmers are aware farm irrigation consumes a great deal of water from the Ogallala aquifer. In the interest of sustaining the cornerstone of our economy they are working on a new venture to teach farmers how to conserve.
Where do we need to be 50 years from now? How are we going to make Lubbock viable in 50 years and have resources? How are farmers going to produce in 50 years to keep our economy going? Those are the questions everyone wants answered and they're the reason Senator Duncan is proposing an irrigation conservation project to south plains farmers.
Over 100 people showed up to listen to the senator's proposal, but more importantly to give their ideas and input. "Producers are the best scientists in the world.. They're out there working every day, coming up with thousands of ideas about how to do things differently,” said Senator Duncan.
Duncan's project is state funded by $10 million over ten years. The ultimate goal is to have a state-wide conservation program in place. That program would help farmers save water while at the same time increasing yield. “He understands how important the aquifer is to the economy in this area and anything we can do to preserve is going to be good. I'm glad to see he's taking the bull by the horns and being pro-active on this,” said Jimmy Wedel, a Muleshoe farmer.
“I think people are just a little bit nervous about change, but we realize we've got to and we have to be very progressive in our change,” says Barry Evans, a Kress farmer.
Farmers did voice their concerns over the costs of being progressive. They want to make sure funding will be available for new advances in equipment but what concerns them more is the cost of losing control of their rights to pump water. "At some point if somebody says you can only pump x amount then I have to cross that line and say are you infringing on my rights?” Wedel says.
Senator Duncan hopes pilot conservation programs will be put in place within one to two years.
The next step right now is doing the research. That includes working with farmers to incorporate their ideas. Though we may not see full-blown changes for a few years, Senator Duncan believes change begins "right here right now."