Colorado Cuts Water Consumption and Expands Hydro-powered Irrigation

The Colorado Pressurized Irrigation Small Hydropower Partnership Project, working through the Colorado Energy Office and the Colorado Department of Agriculture, is helping the state's agricultural producers transition from the water-costly flood irrigation method to pressurized center-pivot sprinkler irrigation systems.

The circular sprinkler systems will deliver water more efficiently to crops, and reduce overall water usage. And, if they’re designed along the lines of the pilot project built at Bear River Ranch in 2014, they’ll be able to power themselves using water. The system is designed to create hydropower by using falling water to pressurize and drive its center pivot, eliminating the need for an external power source.

Not needing to connect the sprinkler to the electrical grid is a considerable savings for the ranch, considering that powered irrigation currently accounts for over 50% of the electricity use in Colorado’s agricultural sector. Powering the sprinklers with the water they are going to deliver to the crops is an ingenious and elegant way to cut cost, and various federal and state funding is available to help defray the costs of the installations. The Hydropower Partnership Project aims to install 30 of these systems across the state within the next few years.

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