The Verde Independent

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Irrigation ditches of the Verde Valley

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cottonwood Ditch Inc. Verde Ditch (Court Mgt)

Contact: Andy Groseta 634-7872 Contact: Vern Hilbers 567-4250

Withdrawal: 60 cfs Withdrawal: 50 cfs

Acres served: 672 Acres served: 1450

Users served: 200 Users served: 685

Length: 8 miles Length: 17 miles

OK Ditch Assn. Diamond S Ditch Inc.

Contact: Bob Kovacovich 567-4097 Contact: Frank Geminden 300-7589

Withdrawal: 30 cfs Withdrawal: 21 cfs

Acres Served: 620 Acres served: 385

Users served: 107 Users served: 82

Length: 5.5 miles Length: 4.9 miles

Eureka Ditch Assn. Red Rock Ditch Assn. LLC.

Contact: John McReynolds 821-0205 Contact: Rob Henry 282-1963

Withdrawal: 20 cfs Withdrawal: Unknown

Acres served: 441 Acres served: 50

Users served: 191 Users served: 42

Length: 7.6 miles Length: 4.9 miles

Mason Lane Ditch Inc. Cornville Ditch Inc.

Contact: Bob Fletcher 602-859-3496 Contact: Bob Cook 634-1396

Withdrawal: 20 cfs Withdrawal: 9 cfs

Acres served: 300 Acres served: 168

Users served: 102 Users served: 59

Length: 4.9 miles Length: 3.9

Pioneer Ditch Assn. Page Springs Ditch

Contact: David Oothoudt 821-0921 Contact: Ron Rovey 282-1155

Withdrawal: 10 cfs Withdrawal: 10 cfs

Acres served: 150 Acres served: 103

Users served: 50 Users served: 13

Length: 1.9 miles Length: 2.5 miles

The Verde Valley has been an active farming region for 1000 years, and irrigation ditches have sustained the bulk of that agriculture.

The earliest known ditch in the valley dates from around 1200 A.D. and is still used by the U.S. Forest Service and several private users.

Most of the irrigation ditches currently in use were built in the late 19th century or the early 20th century.

In all there are over 30 ditch diversions on Oak Creek, Beaver Creek, Clear Creek and the Verde River. They range in size from over 50 cubic feet per second (cfs) and 17 miles long to 1 cfs and less than 1 mile long.

Most are operated by ditch associations, which are typically formally incorporated irrigation cooperatives. Some, however, are controlled by informal family agreements.

The ditches serve to provide water to lands planted primarily with forage alfalfa and grass pastures, although some in the Camp Verde area irrigate acreage planted with sweet corn and commercially harvested pecan orchards.

In order to draw water from an irrigation ditch one must purchase property that is served by a ditch. Homeowners of such property usually pay yearly dues to the ditch association, which in turn is responsible for maintaining and improving the ditch.

Many of the ditch associations are currently fighting for the establishment of their water rights in an adjudication case that began in the late '70s.

The winners in the adjudication case, which will decide who gets what water, how much, and it what order of priority, will be the ones who can prove the oldest claims.

Most of the Verde Valley ditches have the advantage of having been built prior to the establishment of the Salt River Project, their principal adversary in the legal battle.

It is claimed that the oldest ditch built by white settlers in the Verde Valley is the Pioneer Ditch in Camp Verde. The ditch, apparently, predates the establishment of Fort Verde in 1865.

The fort was established to protect those farmers in the area of the Verde River and Clear Creek who were growing hay and vegetables.

Although there are a number of ditches in the valley there are only 10 of them that serve more than ten homeowners.

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