Best Management Practices for Ditch Companies (1/2 Day)

Please Contact DARCA at (970) 412-1960 for more information on scheduling this on-site workshop. All 1/2 day workshops are $500.


The state of Colorado has experienced great increases in its population, especially in the last few decades. Created by the federal government in 1861, the Colorado Territory began with 26,000 inhabitants; today, the population has grown to nearly 4.5 million.

Many of the existing irrigation ditches were carved into the pristine landscape during the early years of settlement. The pioneers who planned, designed, and built these ditches made possible irrigated agriculture in our state, fueling the development of prosperous communities throughout Colorado.

In economic terms, the highest and best use of the land became not that of the cultivation of crops but rather for urban development. As a result, communities were built along irrigation ditches and existing ditch companies became acquainted with their new neighbors. Ditch companies have experienced unfortunate consequences by virtue of running their water through the urban setting. The access to these ditches has been compromised, neighbors complain of seepage problems, safety concerns need to be addressed – all have increased the cost of doing business in the urban environment.

This workshop will address the issues that ditch companies face in dealing with their urban neighbors. The goal of the workshop is to start the process of developing DARCA best management practices for ditch companies on a statwwide level. As an illustration, when ditch companies are involved in litigation over issues such as what is the reasonable width of their easement or what does it mean to keep a ditch in good repair, the courts may hear testimony from experts and determine these issues on an ad hoc basis. Unfortunately, there is no definitive resource, be it a manual or otherwise that details what constitutes good operating practices or what is the standard for Colorado ditches in the operation and maintenance of their facilities. Other industries have adopted good operating or best management practices but Colorado ditch companies have yet to collaboratively define and synthesize their own practices. One goal of the workshop is to help ditch companies provide a better and less costly defense for themselves if they are ever a party to a lawsuit with one of their urban neighbors.