Water management ideas to flow at Ag Day in New Castle | PostIndependent.com

Water management ideas to flow at Ag Day in New Castle

Amanda H. Miller
Citizen Telegram Contributor
Workers installed “smart ditch” technology along an irrigation ditch this fall near Missouri Heights Reservoir in eastern Garfield County. The technology will be among several water-related subjects at the annual Ag Day later this month in New Castle.
Mike Kishimoto/Natural Resources Conservation Service |

NEW CASTLE – Water is always top of mind for area ranchers, farmers and agricultural engineers. That’s why it will be the central focus of this year’s annual Ag Day at the New Castle Community Center, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29.

The event, hosted by the Bookcliff, Mount Sopris and South Side Conservation Districts, will feature water experts from around the state and country leading discussions on water rights issues, the governor’s Colorado River water plan, irrigation structures and “smart,” or “mega,” ditches.

“We try to address a different issue each year,” said Shari Prow, district manager for the Bookcliff, Mount Sopris and South Side Conservation Districts. “Sometimes its weeds or production. This year, the focus is definitely water.”

She said new technology and trends are always central to the Ag Day discussions as well and this year is no exception.

While all of the topics are likely to interest attendees, Prow said the smart ditch is one of the most intriguing new technologies experts will discuss.

A 3,000-foot stretch of ditch coming from the Missouri Heights Reservoir and serving Garfield County was recently converted to a smart ditch.

“This is one of the first in the country,” said Dennis Davidson, conservationist for the districts.

Smart ditch technology involves lining channels with a no-leak material to improve and manage water flow. Two major manufacturers of the technology are SmartDitch and MegaDitch.

Lining a ditch to prevent seeping and to keep water moving in a ditch without much of a natural slope wasn’t always easy or affordable, Davidson added. The new technology makes it a more sensible solution.

Davidson said the conservation districts could have used four 18-inch tubes to transfer water. But that was significantly more expensive than this option. Smart ditches could have good application for ranchers who want their water to remain visible instead of flowing into an enclosed pipe, have similar issues in main conveyance ditches that seep or have slow-moving water, Davidson added.

The smart ditch is just one of several new water technologies that will be on display and discussed, Prow said. Water rights conversations will focus on in-stream flow and new irrigation structures that clean silty water and prevent pipes from clogging.

Prow said she expects a solid turnout of more than 100 participants.

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