Dolores River watershed: Montezuma Valley Irrigation shareholders decline the opportunity to lease water for lower Dolores River conservation efforts

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From the Cortez Journal (Reid Wright):

Stockholders turned out in droves, lining up out the door of the Lewis-Arriola Community Center. A total of 19,566 votes were cast, with 6,052, or 31 percent, votes for the proposed agreement and 13,514, or 69 percent, votes against…

MVI General Manager Don Magnuson told the stockholders before the vote the money could be used to encase MVI canals in pipe – thus reducing the amount of water lost to leaks. Prime candidates were the Garnett Ridge, Goodland Lateral, Big Corkscew, Lower Corkscrew and Lower Arickaree canals. A previous irrigation pipe project saves an estimated 1,500 acre-feet in water annually, Magnuson said. “We’ve got a lot of canals out there that need major work,” he said.

Magnuson told shareholders the impact on their water claims could range from no impact – since shareholders often do not use their entire allocation in a year – to two acre-inches per share annually, even in a time of drought. But after the drought of 2002, which left reservoir levels precariously low, MVIC shareholders – comprising mostly farmers and ranchers – expressed a reluctance to part with their water during a May 5 meeting. They also feared any revenues gained from the agreement would be lost to bureaucracy or loan debt.

The company holds senior water rights in McPhee, Narraguinnep and Groundhog reservoirs, and manages irrigation water for much of Montezuma and Dolores counties.

More Dolores River watershed coverage here.

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