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Thu, May 23

Verde Ditch may be without water until mid-April
Rain, snow cause damage to diversion dam, primary ditch

A photograph of the Verde Ditch just past its main head gate structure. Photo courtesy Al Dupuy

A photograph of the Verde Ditch just past its main head gate structure. Photo courtesy Al Dupuy

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For three months out of the year, the Verde Ditch Corporation shuts the ditch off for annual repairs. Because of damage this year due to heavy rain and snow, the Verde Ditch could be closed until mid-April, says Verde Ditch Commissioner Al Dupuy. VVN/Bill Helm

CAMP VERDE – Al Dupuy said Wednesday that damages sustained to the Verde Ditch’s diversion dam and primary ditch could cost more than $40,000.

But that’s not why the ditch could remain closed until possibly mid-April, the ditch commissioner said.

According to Dupuy, heavy rains and snow this year caused water levels on the Verde River to rise to “an extremely high level.”

And until the water levels off, he said it’s just not possible to mobilize the heavy equipment needed to make the repairs.

Verde Ditch Company commissioners “and a local contractor are regularly monitoring the damaged areas and access to the multiple sites and will start repairs as soon as possible,” Dupuy wrote in a message to the ditch’s shareholders.

The message is posted at the company’s website, www.verdeditch.com.

Dupuy estimates that once it’s safe to do the repairs, it “should only take a week, maybe a week and a half” for workers to make the ditch’s repairs.

Fortunately for the ditch’s 580 shareholders and their collective 1,400 acres, their ditch fees – $105 per acre per year – will more than cover the damages, Dupuy said.

“We’re frugal with our money,” Dupuy said. “This won’t cost the shareholders any additional money.”

In the past six years, the U.S. Forest Service has granted about $200,000 to the Verde Ditch for various repair work that included lining the ditch “with big concrete blocks at the curves,” Dupuy said.

“Improvements have been extensive,” he said. But the ditch, which is the Verde Valley’s longest at 18 miles long, is not a concrete ditch. It’s an “earth ditch.”

Estimates for the repair, Dupuy said, are about $30,000 for the diversion dam at the Verde River and another $18,000 for repairs of “three locations of the primary ditch that gave out.”

The diversion dam redirects water from the Verde River to the Verde Ditch.

Although water from the Verde Ditch has “many uses,” Dupuy said that shareholders primarily use ditch water for irrigation. Those who have wells, he said, “can afford to irrigate” while the ditch is in disrepair.

“However, people who don’t have wells do without,” he said.

For recorded updates on Verde Ditch status, call 928-300-3103.

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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