Running Water, Together

Your Water Colorado Blog

Jerry Gallegos unloading hay to feed cattle Jerry Gallegos feeds his cows an alfalfa mix that he grows with water from the San Luis People’s Ditch. 

From a centuries-old “gentle art” to a modern form of water collective, these irrigators function almost like family.

By Steve Knopper, excerpts from an originally published piece in the Winter 2016 issue of Headwaters magazine

Every March, in the tiny southern Colorado town of San Luis, some 25 representatives from 62 family farms attend a meeting at the old courthouse. They get down to business quickly—no refreshments or snacks.

First, they appoint a mayordomo, an irrigation expert who plots out a strict watering schedule for 1,062 acres of farmland along the San Luis People’s Ditch. The mayordomo spends the summer making sure all the farmers on the ditch get their fair share of water, and fixes problems with flooding by contacting a platoon of neighbors who come out with their shovels…

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