As a homeowner, why do I have to keep embankments clear?

Embankments keep the water in the canal and protect the home. Click here to read more.

Do I need a well permit to dig a well on my property?

Yes.  Well permits are issued by the State Engineer’s office.  www.water.state.co.us.  For more information, contact the State Engineer’s representative, the Division Engineer.  He can be reached at 970-249-6622.

Where does the raw water we drink come from?

There are a few private water companies, who probably have a well.  But as a general rule drinking (domestic) water in the Uncompahgre Valley comes from the Gunnison River, and is imported into the Valley through the Gunnison Tunnel.

Who treats my drinking water?

There are a few private water companies.  But as a general rule drinking (domestic) water in the Uncompahgre Valley is treated by Project 7 Water Authority.  www.project7.org.  Its treatment plant is located 3 miles east of Montrose alongside Highway 50.  Its raw water is delivered from the Gunnison River through the Gunnison Tunnel.  Treated water is then delivered to users by various distribution entities: City of Montrose, Tri-County Water Conservancy District, Menoken Water District, Chipeta Water District, Town of Olathe and City of Delta.  You will pay them to deliver treated water and they will pay Project 7 to treat it.

Is my drinking water fluoridated?

As of 2018, Project 7 Water Authority does not add fluoride to its water.  None of the municipalities adds fluoride to the water they deliver.

Who owns the ditch(es) on my property?

All ditches are owned by the users of the water.  There may be a company, like Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association, www.uvwua.com, or it may be one or more private individuals.  The owner(s) will have a decree from the water court which authorizes them to take water from the stream and transmit it to their fields via the ditch.  [cite to ditch flyer]

What is the width of the easement for an irrigation ditch?

The width is usually not specified, and varies from place to place along the ditch.  The legal standard is what is sufficient for the use of the ditch, also described as what is “reasonably necessary.”

extension.colostate.edu › topic-areas › natural-resources › irrigation-ditches

Can I put a culvert in a ditch on my property?

Only with the consent of all of the ditch owners or a court order authorizing you to do so.  The Ditch right of way is a property right of the ditch owner and you cannot interfere with it to the owner’s detriment.

I have an earthen ditch on my property.  Can the ditch owner pipe or concrete their ditch without my permission?

Yes.  A statute passed in 2019 makes this clear.  www.dwmk.com › single-post › 2019/10/24 › New-Law-Regarding-Ditch-Rights-of-Way

 

Are there any hydroelectric plants in the Uncompahgre Valley?

Ridgway Reservoir has a 7 mw plant and the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users’ South Canal has several low head plants, totaling 10 mw of capacity.

Where does my sewer water go?

If you are connected to a municipal system, your sewer water will be delivered by piping to a treatment facility just downstream of the City or Town.  If you are not connected your sewer water will go into an ISDS (individual septic disposal system) commonly a septic tank and leach field.  The water will be filtered by gravel in the leach field and then go into the ground water under your property; eventually it will go back to the river.

What are the regulations for graywater re-use in the Uncompahgre Valley?

Regulations fall under the State’s Water Quality Control Commission. Click here for additional information.

Can I catch rain water to use on my garden and landscaping?

Yes, with some limitations.  See http://water.state.co.us/SurfaceWater/RainwaterCollection

I think my neighbor is stealing my irrigation water!  Whom should I contact?

  • Your first contact should be the water commissioner for your area. You can find them by calling the Division Engineer at 970-249-6622.  If your water is delivered by a private company, contact its administrator.

How do I find out if there are water rights on my property?

First look at your deed.  Water rights, with some exceptions, are transferred like other real property and should be listed on the deed.  Some water rights (notably in this valley Uncompahgre Valley Water Users rights) are tied to the land and so don’t have to be listed in the deed.  If there are “shares” of a mutual ditch company listed on the deed, other than UVWUA, then there is likely a paper certificate issued by that company showing ownership, much like a car title.

Are water rights tied to the land or do the rights need to be deeded?

Water rights, with some exceptions, are transferred like other real property and should be listed on the deed.  Some water rights (notably in this valley Uncompahgre Valley Water Users rights) are tied to the land and so don’t have to be listed in the deed.  If there are “shares” of a mutual ditch company listed on the deed, other than UVWUA, then there is likely a paper certificate issued by that company showing ownership, much like a car title.

Can I legally access another person’s property to check on my ditch?

All water structures (ditches and pipelines) have an implied (unrecorded) easement which authorizes the owner of the water to have reasonable access to maintain and operate the water structure.  This easement is limited to those operations only; it is not a general right of access.  The width is usually not specified, and varies from place to place along the ditch.  The legal standard is what is sufficient for the use of the ditch, also described as what is “reasonably necessary.”

extension.colostate.edu › topic-areas › natural-resources › irrigation-ditches

What’s the difference between a water conservation district and a water conservancy district?

Water conservation districts were established in the 1930s to have a public entity to lobby for, litigate, and protect water rights for their area.   We live in the Colorado River Water Conservation District, based in Glenwood Springs, which protects water rights on the Colorado River and its tributaries (including the Uncompahgre River.)  It has a small ad valorem (property) tax assessment.

Water conservancy districts were established in the 1950s to have a local public entity to enter into contracts with the federal government, usually for dam building or other water projects.  Locally we have Tri-County Water Conservancy District (which operates Ridgway Reservoir and distributes domestic water) and Bostwick Park Water Conservancy District (which operates Silver Jack Reservoir and distributes irrigation water.)  They both have an ad valorem (property) tax assessment.

Why do I pay property tax to both Bostwick and Tri-County water conservancy districts?

They have different functions.  Tri-County Water Conservancy District operates Ridgway Reservoir and distributes domestic water.   Its property tax assessment goes for operation of that Reservoir and repayment to the Bureau of Reclamation.  Bostwick Park Water Conservancy District operates Silver Jack Reservoir and distributes irrigation water.  Its property tax assessment goes for operation of that Reservoir and repayment to the Bureau of Reclamation.

What do I pay property tax to Tri-County when my domestic water is provided by another organization?

Water conservancy districts were established in the 1950s to have a local public entity to enter into contracts with the federal government, usually for dam building or other water projects.  Tri-County Water Conservancy District owns the water rights in Ridgway Reservoir and a contract with the Bureau of Reclamation which authorizes Tri-County to operate that Reservoir.   All properties within the District were pledged in an election to guarantee repayment of the cost of construction of the Reservoir.  That obligation will be paid in 2049.  You may not receive any direct benefit from Ridgway Reservoir, but receive indirect benefits by improved management of the water stored there.

What is Project 7? Why do I care?

Project 7 Water Authority is a public entity (a partnership of towns, cities, and water districts) which was formed to allow construction and operation of a regional water treatment plant.  www.project7.org.  Its treatment plant is located 3 miles east of Montrose alongside Highway 50.  Its revenue all comes from wholesale sales of water to its partners.  It has no property or other tax.

How long is the Gunnision Tunnel?

The Gunnison Tunnel is 5.8 miles long from the East Portal in the Black Canyon to the West Portal where the canal emerges into the valley.

Aren’t the canal roads a public right of way?

No, canal roads are not a public right of way and should not be used for recreation.  Each user has the right to obtain their water from structures or ditches that may cross another person’s property, but canal roads are an exclusive easement for UVWUA operations and maintenance.

How much is one-acre foot of water?

One-acre foot of water is the volume of water necessary to cover one acre of surface area to a depth of one foot or 325,851 gallons.

How cold is the irrigation water?

Cold!

Is the irrigation water too cold for fish?

No.

Can I swim or float in the canals/laterals?

No, canals/laterals are on private property.  The canals are dangerous with swift currents, steep banks and strong undertows while they are running full.  The steep banks are equally hazardous in the winter.  They are not recreation facilities and children should be taught to stay away from them.

How do I turn on my headgate?

You don’t!  Call your ditchrider.