At the request of the Hartland Ditch Company, trail extensions that required use of the ditch right-of-way have been removed from the city's Parks, Recreation, Trails and Open Space Master Plan.
Having granted a similar request to the North Delta Irrigation Company, council members agreed they had no alternative but to extend the same concession to the Hartland Ditch Company.
In a letter to council members, Hartland Ditch representatives said, "The historical and current use of the Hartland right-of-way is to deliver water to its users. By allowing other uses it could destroy the protection granted to ditch companies by statute. Trespass will occur on the underlying private properties when the right-of-way is used for anything other than intended purposes.
"Other concerns are liability, public safety and the potential for limiting maintenance on the Hartland right-of-way."
The Hartland Ditch carries water from the Gunnison River to farms, gardens and yards in North Delta. Shirley Morgan, ditch company secretary, said the ditch is about eight miles in length, running from Cottonwood Park, across the highway and to an outlet near the city wastewater treatment plant.
Wilma Erven, director of parks, recreation and golf for the City of Delta, described the use of the Hartland Ditch right-of-way as "very little and very long range."
She also noted the many public meetings held during the development of the Parks, Recreation, Trails and Open Space Master Plan. Neither ditch company took part in those meetings.
"Also there was a survey sent to all City of Delta residents for input," she said in a memo to council members. "The consultant reviewed input from the meetings and surveys. Based upon this public input the consultants included the extension of trails along irrigation ditches as part of the future development of an off-road pedestrian and bicycle transportation system."
At the March 19 city council meeting, a resolution will be considered that complies with the request from the Hartland Ditch Company.
When asked if any other ditch companies will be submitting similar requests, "None that I'm aware of," Erven said, "but there are no guarantees."