Contrary to the name, the Arkansas Valley Super Ditch is not a ditch at all. It’s an innovative water-leasing project that will preserve Colorado farmland while also providing municipalities and other entities with the water they need to grow and thrive.
The Catlin Canal Pilot Project was approved in January, and the first six months have been highly successful. The 10-year project involves the rotational fallowing of approximately 1,200 acres of irrigated land in the Arkansas River Basin to generate up to 500 acre-feet of water available for lease to three municipal participants. Seventy percent of each farm remains irrigated, making it a sustainable alternative to the previous “buy and dry” policies.
In the future, similar projects will be implemented throughout Colorado, striking a compromise that preserves both farming communities and municipalities that compete for the same water.
Martin and Wood is providing the technical expertise on this project. Our work includes calculation of historical consumptive use, review of aerial photographs, water rights accounting, projection of water supplies, maintenance of return flow obligations, implementation of a "Pay As You Go" strategy, and extensive coordination between water attorneys, state water officials, other water users in the Arkansas River Basin, and ditch company employees.
We’re excited to see the continued success of the pilot project and all the ways it will help Colorado’s water resource issues for generations to come.