Apple Gate

Upper Black Lake, Photo by Richard Stenzel

2013 Calendar

  This calendar is the ninth in a series of historic project calendars that Applegate Group has distributed since 2005. Applegate Group believes that water is Colorado’s most valuable resource and it is important that we all know the history of Colorado’s water project developments. The importance of obtaining a water right in Colorado for beneficial purposes has been recognized since the late 1800’s. Applegate Group is pleased to share the 2013 Colorado's Historic Water Projects Calendar with you.

McPhee Reservoir
The Dolores Water Conservancy District (DWCD) was formed in 1961. The DWCD was successful in obtaining Congressional authorization for the Dolores Project (McPhee Reservoir) in1968. Primarily because of the influence of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation began construction on McPhee Reservoir in 1980, with completion in 1986. McPhee Reservoir is located in Montezuma County west of the Town of Dolores. It is the second largest reservoir in Colorado and impounds water from the Dolores River. Water that is stored is used for irrigation, municipal and industrial uses, recreation, fish and wildlife, and hydroelectric power. The water provided for irrigation purposes is used in Montezuma and Dolores counties and in the Ute Mountain Indian Reservation. The photo at left shows the Dolores Project dedication ceremony.
Silver Lake Reservoir
Silver Lake Ditch, the last ditch built in Boulder, was conceived by George Oliver and James P. Maxwell, who owned property on the high dry mesas of north Boulder. J. P. Maxwell later served as the Fourth Colorado State Engineer. Construction began in 1887 when Maxwell created first Silver Lake and then later Island Lake, which are both below the Arapahoe Glacier. The storage right is a senior right. The reservoir delivers water to the Silver Lake Ditch and Reservoir Company for the irrigation of lands located in northern Boulder and today is also a source of water for the City of Boulder. The Silver Lake Ditch starts up in Boulder Canyon about a mile above town where the diversion structure also delivers a junior surface water and water from the two reservoirs into the main ditch and then the water flows through a series of ditches, pipes, and tunnels, north and east, all the way to Boulder, and finally to Mesa Reservoir, where the ditch terminates.
Hanging Flume
The hanging flume is located 3 miles northwest of Uravan, Colorado. During the week April 9th of 2012, a dozen engineers, scientists, archaeologists, industrial riggers, carpenters and historians gathered to test theories of how the flume was originally constructed in the 1880’s by rebuilding a 48-foot-long section of the hanging flume. Those involved in this recent construction did however use modern drills and saws to work with the cedar wood planks due to time constraints and funding limits. The riggers, suspended from the cliff top, eased 200-pound ponderosa pine frame pieces and rough-sawn planks to two men balanced on the antique wooden braces to fit the unwieldy pieces into what is a 6-foot-wide and 4-foot-high wooden trough. When the flume was originally built, 25 men worked three years to build the 10 miles of hanging flume on the cliff along with excavating another 3 miles of earthen flume.
Wolford Mountain Reservoir
Wolford Mountain Reservoir is located about five miles north of Kremmling along U.S. Highway 40 and stores 66,000 acre-feet of water when full. Its primary purpose is to provide water to Western Slope contract holders when their water rights would otherwise be called out by more senior water users on the Colorado River. The reservoir is owned and operated by the Colorado River District. Wolford Mountain Reservoir storage benefits both Western Colorado and the Eastern Slope. In exchange for financial support, Denver Water can use up to 40 percent of Wolford Mountain Reservoir’s storage water. Initial funds for Wolford came from the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District as mitigation for the Windy Gap Project. Water released from the reservoir is also used to substitute water in the Colorado River that is diverted from Dillon Reservoir near Frisco by Denver Water in critically dry years. Water from Wolford benefits endangered fish in the Colorado River near Grand Junction when it is released to enhance flows in the spring and late summer.
Delaney Butte Lakes
The Delaney Butte Lakes were constructed to irrigate lands located west of Walden, Colorado in 1922. The Division of Wildlife (DOW) subsequently acquired lands around the lakes in 1940. During the irrigation season, water is diverted from the Roaring Fork River and its tributaries and stored in the lakes then later released to irrigate the lands served under the Wolfer Ditch system. The DOW acquired conservation pool easements from the previous and current owners that require minimum amounts of storage be maintained to sustain fisheries and recreation. The DOW also acquired ownership interest in the water rights that were historically stored for irrigation and subsequently changed the shares they owned to allow for additional uses of the storage water that included piscatorial, wildlife and recreation. In addition, the DOW has its own decrees for additional storage rights in the lakes that include piscatorial, wildlife and recreational uses.
Flaming Gorge Dam and Reservoir
The Flaming Gorge Reservoir is mainly in southwest Wyoming and partially in northeastern Utah. The northern tip of the reservoir is just 10 miles southeast of Green River, Wyoming, 14 miles southwest of Rock Springs, Wyoming, and 43 miles north of Vernal, Utah. Construction on the dam began in 1958 and was completed in 1964. The reservoir stores 3,788,900 acre-feet and is an integral part of the Upper Colorado River Basin Storage System. The Colorado River Storage Project is a program to develop, and make available for use, the water resources of the Upper Colorado River Basin: …for the purposes, among others, of regulating the flow of the Colorado River, storing water for beneficial consumptive use, making it possible for the States of the Upper Basin to utilize the water consistent with the provisions of the Colorado River Compact the apportionments made to and among them in the Colorado River Compact, and the Upper Colorado River Basin Compact. The project was also for the control of floods, and for the generation of hydroelectric power, as an incident of the above purposes.
Rio Grande Reservoir
The Rio Grande Reservoir is located at the headwaters of the Rio Grande in Hindsdale County, and has been serving the agricultural community of the San Luis Valley since 1912 as the only pre- compact on channel reservoir on the main stem of the Rio Grande River. Construction on the reservoir by the San Luis Valley Irrigation District began in 1912 and was completed in 1914. The construction of the reservoir involved 50 to 100 teams of horses working in very harsh conditions. In June of 1912 the reservoir stored and released water to be used beneficially on District lands while the dam was still being completed to establish a storage right. The reservoir provides storage for agricultural needs and is used for compact compliance, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, and flood control.
Charles Hansen Feeder Canal Siphon
The Charles Hansen Feeder Canal runs across Highway 34 via an inverted siphon. That is the pipe you see when you enter the Big Thompson Canyon just west of the Dam Store and is shown above. The canal itself is 105 feet higher in elevation than the 108” diameter pipe that crosses the highway. The canal transports water north from Carter Reservoir to either the Big Thompson River or Horsetooth Reservoir. The canal is higher on the left side of the road when the water enters the siphon pipe and forces the water to rise under pressure to the level of the canal on the right side of the valley, which is at a slightly lower elevation. In the foreground you can see the diversion dam for the Handy Ditch, which delivers irrigation water to lands located on the south side of the Big Thompson River. Water from the Big Thompson River can be diverted directly into the canal by Tunnel No.1, which is located upstream. When water deliveries are made from the canal to the Big Thompson River the water can either be released through a chute that delivers the water upstream of the Handy Ditch or it can be released through a pipeline that delivers the water to the Big Thompson Power Plant to generate electricity and is subsequently released to the river. The power lines in the photograph come from that power plant.
Fruit Growers Dam and Reservoir
The dam and reservoir is located east near Orchard City, Colorado. On June 12, 1937, the entire volume of water in the reservoir was lost in about nine hours due to a spillway failure of the original dam; the damage downstream would have been significantly greater if the dam had failed all at once. The farmers who originally constructed the dam immediately looked for a way to replace the dam and reservoir which was constructed to irrigate crops in the area. The Bureau of Reclamation began investigations into replacing the dam in late June of 1937. On January 11, 1938, President Roosevelt approved the project and the dam was completed on October 15 of 1938. The first storage of water behind the dam took place on October 31, 1938. The operation and maintenance of the dam was taken over by the Orchard City Irrigation District on March 1, 1940. The reservoir can store 4,540 acre-feet of water and is used to irrigate 2,690 acres of land in addition to being used for boating, swimming and fishing.
Western Canal
Nebraska brought its suit against Colorado in 1916, in the name of the Western Irrigation District, to enjoin the diversions by certain users in Colorado. The Colorado defendant ditches hired Delph Carpenter who suggested working towards a treaty between Colorado and Nebraska to settle the problem. The South Platte River Compact, which came out of the suit with Nebraska, was agreed to on April 27, 1923. Shown in the calendar photograph is the Western Canal diversion structure and head gate, which is located in Nebraska just north of the Colorado state line. Between April 1st and October 15th of each year water rights in Colorado with priority dates junior to June 14, 1897, which is the Western Canal priority date, are restricted in diverting water from the lower reaches of the South Platte River if the mean flow at the Nebraska state line river gage is less than 120 cfs. The junior water rights that are impacted are only those located downstream of the Balzac river gage located at the Washington-Logan County line.
Groundhog Reservoir
Groundhog Reservoir is located in the Dolores River watershed above McPhee Reservoir and is decreed for a total of 21,709 acre-feet absolute. Of this amount, 3,960 acre-feet has been dedicated to the Division of Wildlife for a fish pool pursuant to a 1975 agreement with the Division. Groundhog Reservoir is located on a tributary to the Dolores River and is used to supplement diversions through Main Canals No. 1 and No. 2 of the Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company that irrigates lands in the vicinity of Cortez, Colorado. The water is stored in the river primarily during the summer months when the flow in the Dolores River declines. Water delivered from Groundhog Reservoir and Main Canals under MVIC’s water rights is used in the McElmo Creek basin and therefore, is considered a transbasin diversion since these facilities are associated with diversions from the Dolores River basin.
Harvey Gap Reservoir
The Harvey Gap Reservoir is located north of Silt Colorado and is owned by the Farmers Irrigation Company. The reservoir is used to irrigate lands in the area, which also receive water from the Silt Project. The Silt Project is one of the initial group of participating projects in the Colorado River Storage Project. The Project purposes included the diversion, storage, and distribution of water of the Rifle Creek watershed and the Colorado River for irrigation, fish and wildlife, and recreation. The authorized Project included the rehabilitation of the previously abandoned Davie Ditch, as well as the construction of the Rifle Gap Dam and Reservoir, the Silt Pumping Plant, and a lateral system. Colorado Department of Parks and Outdoor Recreation manages the recreational development and administration of the Silt Project and Harvey Gap Reservoir.
Lakes 4 & 5 of Seven Lakes System
Early settlers to Colorado Springs dug an open ditch from Fountain Creek into town. From it, they dipped out their needs for drinking, bathing, washing clothes and so on. In 1876, the ditch water became polluted and local citizens began demanding a new system. Officials of the town began looking to the mountains for a water supply. Development of Colorado Springs mountain system—water from Pikes Peak—began in the 1890’s. Through U.S. Congress grants and other purchases, the city received title to the Seven Lakes on the South Slope of Pikes Peak and surrounding lands. In 1891, Colorado Springs paid $70,000 for the Seven Lakes, which are today a part of the south slope system. Shown in the calendar photograph are Lakes 4 & 5 which are a part of the Seven Lakes storage system. Water stored in these lakes and the south slope system is delivered by releases to the stream system, which are then diverted and delivered through a system of tunnels, the longest of which is Strickler Tunnel at 6,480 feet.