Longmont: Water rights and the Beckwith Ditch

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From The Longmont Times Call (Scott Rochat):

Tuesday marks a century and a half since the beginning of the Beckwith Ditch, the oldest water rights that Longmont owns. In fact, the rights are so old, they predate the city, which wasn’t founded until 1871. It’s not a dramatic spot — just a couple of miles near Golden Ponds that eventually drains into Left Hand Creek. Its water volume is steady but not prodigious — enough to fill one of those ponds given a four-day head start. But it’s the age that matters. Only two other rights on that stretch of the St. Vrain are older. And since Colorado water law is first-come, first-served, that means a steady 14 CFS (cubic feet per second) even in the most drought-ridden of summers…

The Beckwith Ditch, by contrast, had its start with the pre-Longmont homesteaders. More precisely, it had its start with the gold hunters interested in Clear Creek and James Creek — and those who decided there was surer money to be had in selling food and feed to the prospectors…

The city itself didn’t actually own the Beckwith Ditch until 1965, when it acquired a majority of the ditch’s shares. (Today, it holds 83 percent ownership.) This was part of a new policy focus — to acquire the water rights for any area it annexed, partly as a buffer against bad times. The Beckwith, which had started out as a source purely for agricultural supply, would help provide residential water as well.

More St. Vrain Creek coverage here and here.

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