XTO Energy Inc. will donate 5,000 acre-feet of water to the State of Colorado to assist with extreme drought conditions in the western part of the state, according to a company statement obtained by Western Wire.

The company, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, announced its plans to transfer the water from Ruedi Reservoir in Pitkin county “for use downstream of the reservoir, including for irrigation and fish habitat purposes.” XTO is coordinating the operation with Colorado’s Division Engineer’s office, the company said.

“In a water year as dire as 2018, increased river flows to benefit the endangered fish also benefit the farmers, and indeed, all the water users, in the Grand Valley,” said Mark Harris, General Manager of the Grand Valley Water Users Association. “By adding water to the Colorado River, ExxonMobil’s contribution helps assure the proper operation of our diversion structures for the benefit of not only the Grand Valley Water Users Association and the Grand Valley Irrigation Company, but also the Orchard Mesa, Palisade and Mesa County Irrigation Districts and all their customers.”

According to XTO, 5,000 acre-feet of water is the equivalent of water for 1,500 homes for a year, or annual irrigation needs for 10,000 acres of farmland.

Signe Snortland, Eastern Colorado Bureau of Reclamation Area Manager, said the donation will help protect endangered fish species and assist an embattled agricultural sector along Colorado’s Western Slope.

“ExxonMobil’s action will result in Reclamation providing 5,000 acre-feet of urgently needed water to protect endangered fish in a 15-mile reach of the Colorado River,” said Snortland. “We will coordinate the release of this water with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This water will also provide valuable ‘push’ water to the agricultural community in the Grand Valley.”

According to the National Integrated Drought Information System, a project of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), most of western Colorado, and especially the southwest portion of the state, are entrenched in “extreme drought” or “exceptional drought” categories. The office projects drought conditions to persist or remain but with slight improvements over the remainder of 2018.


More than 71 percent of Colorado is experiencing some level of drought, with just over 44 percent categorized as extreme or exceptional, as of September 11th. In the southwest, all of San Miguel, Dolores, Montezuma, and La Plata Counties, along with portions of Montrose, Ouray, San Juan, Hinsdale, and Archuleta Counties are experiencing the highest level of drought classification.

Several municipalities have instituted water restrictions, and the state’s ranchers are facing dire conditions.

“If we don’t see those things happening, and we see Mother Nature not function, things get really serious real fast,” Terry Fankhauser, Executive Vice President of the Colorado Cattleman’s Association told the Denver Business Journal last week.

The drought conditions extend across the Four Corners region, covering Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico as well.

“XTO Energy shares the State of Colorado’s concerns about the persistent drought that is affecting much of Colorado,” said Michael Johnson, Vice President of XTO Energy Central Division. “Just as we did during the 2002 drought, we are making an effort to offer our assistance by donating water we would normally use for internal operational purposes to help mitigate drought impacts.”