Although no action was taken, the Cedaredge board of trustees learned a great deal about water during its Feb. 16 meeting. Representatives from the Butte Ditch and Fogg Ditch companies explained the ditch companies "Application for change of water right."
Those present were Andy Wick, representing the Butte Ditch Company, Jeff Hinkley for Fogg Ditch Company, Jeff Widener, a ditch rider for both the Fogg and Alfalfa Ditch companies, and overseer of Fruitgrowers Reservoir, Jeff Boyd, a retired water commissioner, James Holiman and Doug Wist, District 40 Water Commissioners, and Gregg Scott, a government ditch rider in the Surface Creek.
The application is for an alternate point of diversion to run decreed water shares from the headgate of the Alfalfa Ditch, through the Alfalfa Ditch to Fruitgrowers Reservoir. According to the application, the requested diversion via the Alfalfa Ditch has taken place "informally for years."
According to Wick, those decrees are flow-through decrees, not storage decrees, and as such can only be stored in Fruitgrowers Reservoir for three days.
A letter from the two ditch companies to the Alfalfa Ditch Company states, "In the past, the Alfalfa Ditch Company gave the Butte and Fogg Companies verbal consent to use the Alfalfa Ditch in order to run their decreed water decrees through the Fruitgrowers Reservoir. We are presently and have in the past moved these decrees to the Alfalfa Ditch. This arrangement has worked well for our companies."
According to Boyd this arrangement has been in place for 22 years, with no fundamental changes. It was noted that there would be two more ditch companies to insure maintenance to the ditch.
It was also noted that some private properties within the Deer Creek Subdivision, bordering the Alfalfa Ditch, are encroaching on the right-of-way easements for the operation and maintenance of the Alfalfa Ditch.
The letter also states that the ditch companies, "will not run water in the Alfalfa Ditch if there is not enough capacity (86 cfs total) in the Alfalfa Ditch." The letter also guarantees that:
• Property damage to the Alfalfa Ditch or harm to the Alfalfa Ditch Company caused by the extra water from the Butte and Fogg companies' decrees will be covered by the Butte and Fogg Companies;
• The contract between the Orchard City Irrigation District and the Alfalfa Ditch regarding maintenance of the Alfalfa Ditch will continue as in the past;
• All Butte and Fogg decreed water that runs through the Alfalfa Ditch will be documented by the Division of Water Resources;
• The amount of added water to the Alfalfa Ditch from the Butte and Fogg decrees will not exceed 40 cfs; and
• The Alfalfa Ditch priorities will be used first.
The letter concludes, "The Butte and Fogg company boards would like to pursue getting approval for an alternate point of diversion to the Alfalfa Ditch through the water courts so that there will never be any confusion over obligations and water rights, but only if the Alfalfa Ditch Board is in agreement."
Boyd said the letter would be included as an attachment to the application.
Mayor Pat Means noted that the town has concerns regarding access to the headgate and liability issues to property owned by the Town of Cedaredge and to private and public properties adjacent to the Alfalfa Ditch.
Wick noted that the addition water flows created by the diversion will not increase the high water level in the Alfalfa Ditch, and will not take place during high run-off.
In a memo to the trustees, town administrator Kathleen Sickles stated, "although the application appears to be a formal process to approve an informal practice, my concern is regarding maintenance easements and necessary maintenance regarding the impact of 39.67 c.f.s. over time, to the improved private and public property adjacent to the Alfalfa Ditch, the consequences of high run off and liability to town structures intersecting the Alfalfa Ditch."
The town has until the last day of February to file a "Statement of Opposition" with the Water Clerk's Office, in Montrose. Although the "Application for change of water right" by the ditch companies was scheduled for action by the trustees, none was taken pending legal advice from the town's attorney, Steven Harper.blog comments powered by Disqus