Water 2012 in the Rio Grande Basin invites everyone interested in the early history of water in the San Luis Valley to take a caravan tour of water projects in the eastern part of the Valley on Friday, June 22, 2012. Co-sponsored by the Costilla County Conservation District, the Rio Grande Interbasin Roundtable, and the Colorado Field institute, hosts of the tour include Sanchez Ditch and Reservoir Company, the San Luis People’s Ditch, and the Trinchera Irrigation Company (TIC).
Getting to the beginning of the tour in San Acacio is a trip worth taking. The best and most scenic route would be to follow the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic byway south on State Hwy 185 from Alamosa, turning left (east) at Romeo, and passing through Manassa before crossing the Conejos and the San Antonio rivers, then over the Rio Grande, which forms the border between Conejos and Costilla Counties. Passing over the Rio Bravo del Norte gives a spectacular view of this historic region, where the first pobladores (settlers) traveled northward into Mexico’s most remote northern outpost.
The tour begins at 9:45, departing from San Acacio, at the Sanchez Ditch and Reservoir Company. Manager Travis Robinson will guide the group to the Sanchez Reservoir, with its iconic century-old Gate Tower rising from the water. Travis will tell the history of farming and irrigation in the area and explain some interesting developments currently being funded by the Colorado Water Conservancy Board. Nicole Langley, interpretive writer and researcher for the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway, will join Travis to talk about early settlements and land use practices in the region.
Coming back from the Reservoir, the tour will stop in San Luis where the historic People’s Ditch wends its way across La Vega, the last remaining Commons in the US. Dianna Cortez will give a brief history of the acequia system, a gravity-fed irrigation system in the oldest community in Colorado. Operating under Water District 24 of Division 3, the People's Ditch holds the first adjudicated water rights granted by a court decree in Colorado on April 10, 1852. The People's Ditch serves 22 shareholders (affiliated water users) and irrigates approximately 2100 acres of hay & other row crops and are all considered to be primary acres. The majority of shareholders are descendants of the original founders of the acequia and some have owned family shares for nine generations. The Peoples Ditch was incorporated in 1967 and the company’s 20 shareholders hold 1624 shares.
Then, traveling northward on State Highway 159 on the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Route, the tour stops for lunch at Al-Gon Pizza and Restaurant in historic Fort Garland where Water Commissioner Bob Schultz will join the group. After lunch, the tour passes through historic Fort Garland to Blanca, to the Sangre de Cristo Trinchera Diversion Canal. With upgrades funded by Colorado Water Conservation Board, this canal is an approximately 24,000 foot-long concrete-lined segment of the Trinchera Irrigation Company system. The Canal takes water from Sangre de Cristo Creek and directs it approximately southwestward to Hoffman Canyon, where it joins Trinchera Creek as it re-emerges just below the dam at Mountain Home Reservoir. Both of these flows converge into Trinchera Canal with about 50% of TIC water serving the agriculturally productive southern end of the system. As Bob Schultz, Water Commissioner, will explain, The Canal forms the heart of a unique and flexible system for distributing water.
Transportation will not be provided so participants are encouraged to carpool. Lunch will be provided by the Costilla County Conservation District. The agenda is as follows:
9:45am: Meet in San Acacio at the Sanchez Ditch and Reservoir Company Office
10:00-10:45am: Follow Travis Robinson, Manager, to Sanchez Reservoir
10:45-11:00am: Drive back to San Luis, the oldest town in Colorado.
11:00-11:30am The People's Ditch – a history told by Diana Cortez
11:30-12:00pm Drive north on Hwy 159 to Ft Garland
12:00-1:00pm Lunch at Al-Gon Pizzs & Restaurant, meeting up with Commissioner Bob Schultz
1:00-1:30pm Group Follow Bob Schultz to the Trinchera Irrigation Company project
1:30-2:15pm Sangre De Cristo Trinchera Diversion Canal Restoration Project
ALL PARTICIPANTS MUST REGISTER USING THIS LINK: https://www.signmeup.com/site/reg/register.aspx?fid=D32VJJ7