In most years there is abundant water on the Grand Mesa to supply the needs of the Surface Creek Valley.
But even when there is plenty, the work of collecting, storing, managing and transporting that water to its rightful users is an enterprise of huge complexity involving local governments, special districts, state government and public land management on the federal level.
The lead players in this intricate balance of precious water and the maze of rules that govern it are the six water commissioners working out of the Cedaredge District 40 office of Division of Water Resources, the private Grand Mesa Water Users Association, and the Grand Mesa Water Conservancy District. The trio of local organizations works closely and cooperatively to see that available water is delivered to users.
A fourth player in the local water scenario is the Forest Service, which manages public lands where virtually all of the valley's water supplies, both domestic and agricultural, originate.
During the two water workshops held at Orchard City and Cedaredge last week, Doug Wist, lead water commissioner for district 40 in Cedaredge, gave a general overview of the mesa's water management system to some 150 people attending the workshops.
The six water commissioners working out of the Cedaredge office have primary responsibility for seeing that water is delivered through the intricate system of dams, creeks and ditches to its rightful users in accordance with the state law of prior appropriation and the doctrine of "first in time, first in right."
The District 40 office also has responsibility for other water management tasks, including stream flow measurement and dam safety.
Ron Shaver of Cedaredge explained the role of the Grand Mesa Water Users. The organization manages the extremely complex system of water trading and transport among drainages on the south side of Grand Mesa, and sees that the exchanges are executed and recorded. The system on the south side of Grand Mesa is considered among the most complex anywhere.
The Water Users also provide downstream insurance for dam owners. They help broker water renting agreements and work with the District 40 commissioners' office on some system maintenance chores.
Jim Durr, vice president of the Grand Mesa Water Conservancy District board, made a presentation on the structure and functioning of the district. The district was formed in 1961 to develop the yet-unbuilt Grand Mesa Project storage reservoir and to administer the 29,000 acre feet of water allocated for it.
The seven members of the board are appointed by a judge, and their mission is to "support beneficial uses of the unappropriated waters of the state."
The district is involved with developing water augmentation plans, and the district also has reservoirs on the Grand Mesa.
Last summer the District nearly completed rehabilitation of Peak Dam and Reservoir which will provide 30 acre feet to the valley's supplies. Rehab work on Blanche Park Reservoir is scheduled to begin next, and when completed it will secure another 120 acre feet for the valley's use.blog comments powered by Disqus