A geographic information system (GIS) is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of spatial or geographical data.

This summer, DARCA interns have been using ArcGIS to create map for various DARCA members and ditch managers around Colorado. These ditches include the Lower Boulder Ditch, Farmer’s Highline Canal, Platteville Ditch, and the Excelsior Ditch.

These maps are clear, easy to read, and are useful to everyone involved in ditch management from ditch-riders to board-members. When creating the map, it is possible to include as much or as little data as you want. The data included in the maps is only what is requested, which keeps the maps clean and simple. Within ArcGis, map features can be toggled on and off depending on what is requested.

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Useful layers that we have included on maps are: major roads, highways, lakes, streams, other canals, address parcels of adjacent properties, and irrigated lands. Some of this data is available to download from state, counties, and USGS while other data was provided directly by the ditch companies from previous maps. In some instances we used Google Earth to determine ditch headgate coordinates. Information such as maintenance history of headgates can be stored in the headgate attribute table. Ditch easements can easily be shown in ArcGIS.

More advanced versions of GIS mapping software includes an online platform, and in some cases mobile applications, to make the map “live.” The map is editable and in real-time.

For more information on GIS on Colorado ditches click to watch this video.