Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance

The Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance (DARCA) conducted their 11th Annual Convention, “Water of Food; Food for Life,” March 6-8 at the Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction, CO. The event allows ditch company personnel, farmers, ranchers, and other water professionals from around the state to network and exchange and obtain valuable information.

The DARCA is a non-profit organization formed in 2001 to support the state’s ditch and reservoir companies. DARCA’s mission is to help these businesses and their shareholders find cost effective solutions to issues such as growing urbanization, increased regulations, as well as many other problems that are now facing these historic businesses.
The DARCA is governed by an 11 member board of directors who come from both sides of the Continental Divide. Having board members from the Front Range and Western Slope allows for much needed collaboration. John McKenzie is the Executive Director of DARCA. McKenzie’s farm has been in his family for 120 years, which allows him to bring an agricultural passion and perspective to the mission of DARCA.

As ditch and reservoir companies have found that dealing with water issues in Colorado is not only complex but can be costly, DARCA aims to lessen that burden. McKenzie says, “One of DARCA’s goals is to enhance the financial viability for our member ditch companies so that these companies can lower the assessments to their members and have more money available for much needed infrastructure improvement.” Typically, ditch companies do not have the in-house knowledge necessary to protect their rights, and often have to hire experts, which can be a very expensive undertaking for these limited resource organizations. “DARCA is in the business of transferring timely and useful information from those who have it to those who don’t,” says McKenzie.

The ditch and reservoir businesses are not the sole beneficiaries of the services that DARCA offers. The farmers and ranchers that rely on the ditch water to grow food, fiber, and forage benefit when the ditch companies operate more effectively and thus lower the cost of water for their agricultural operations. The ditches and reservoirs are also very good for the local communities. Many of our urban neighbors do not realize that the “stream” running through town is not a natural stream but in fact is a manmade ditch. Additionally, most of the reservoirs in the state have been constructed to deliver water to our farms. “In addition to providing water to farmers to grow food, ditch companies have constructed an artificial landscape of reservoirs, waterways and riparian corridors that enrich local communities,” says Mr. McKenzie.