Historic Water Structures

There are more than 22,000 ditches and reservoirs in Colorado that may qualify for historical designation on the National Register of Historic Places. This raises concern levels in the water community because it designates every ditch and reservoir as an historic structure. The potential for listing includes regulatory implications. Any project with federal action, money or property and that requires a federal permit would have to go through historical preservation review. If a third party requests the listing and the owner objects, it can`t be listed, but it can be designated as eligible for listing at the national level, and that triggers the same federal regulations, including control over maintenance or repair. That would include anything in the structure along the system -- from headgates down to the cottonwood trees along the ditch--and implies that every feature is somehow historically significant. As a water rights attorney representing Colorado Water Congress, Mike Shimmin, stated "It scared the holy heck out of the owners of the ditch and reservoir systems" that a new wave of federal or state regulations may be triggered that would impact any act of maintenance, repair or other operating changes.