Wednesday, May 09, 2007

You can take my ditch water when you pry it from my cold dead hands.......

A few weeks ago, there was a note on our community mail box that said “The irrigation water is in”. The word around town was that the ditches are running! Water is a very big deal in the Southwestern United States, and people go to great lengths to get it. City water is too expensive to use for irrigation, so ditches like run all across the county (I have been listening to my daughter too much). In the winter they are dry, but in the spring, when the water levels of the larger rivers rise, the weirs are opened up, and the ditches flow. Now the interesting thing is that they can not simply take the water they need from the river. The ditch companies own shares of these rivers, and the amount they can take out is strictly monitored. The ditch companies in turn sell shares of their water, and individuals have gates that allow a pre determined amount of water to be diverted into their personal ditches so they can water their yards, irrigate crops, etc. Depending on the ditch company, some shares can be traded or sold like stocks to other people, even in other states. Some of the more forward thinking companies locked the water shares to the property, not the person. I know of existing court cases regarding water rights, and people have died over the issue. One interesting thing is that a large percentage of the water flowing through Colorado is “owned” by cities in Nevada and California, and this has many Colorado cities rather nervous. I have heard that the Colorado River never makes it to the sea of Cortez as every last drop has been diverted before it gets there.Water is a big deal out here, and the “ditches are running” cry puts a smile on many faces. Let the green up begin!

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