Ag is top water user of Arkansas River in Colo.

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More than 86 percent of the water diverted from the Arkansas River Basin in Colorado is used to irrigate crops, even though urban areas have been buying water rights for the past 60 years.

The Pueblo Chieftain reported on its website Monday (http://bit.ly/psO3nR ) that the percentage is even higher in four counties east of Pueblo, where about 99 percent goes to crops.

The newspaper cited statistics from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Only 20 percent of Arkansas River Basin withdrawals in El Paso County are for agriculture, and it Pueblo, it’s 41 percent.

El Paso County is the basin’s most populous, with more than 622,000 people. Pueblo County is the second-most populous, with nearly 159,000.