Mancos Water Conservancy District

At a September public meeting, the Mancos Water Conservancy District (MWCD) board continued discussion about obtaining title transfer of irrigation facilities from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR). At the meeting they heard from two out-of-state irrigation managers who benefited from title transfer. Invited guests were Gary Esslinger, Manager for the Elephant Butte Irrigation District in New Mexico, and Tom Knutson, retired General Manager of the Farwell Irrigation District in Nebraska. Both reported that the title process was time consuming and not easy but that it was worth it in the end for their districts.

Esslinger stated that "It gave the farmers more independence and reduced the red tape and bureaucracy." In addition, with the 1995 transfer of canals, laterals, and ditches from the BOR to the district’s control they owned the land and were able to collect fees charged to utilities and communication companies crossing their land. Knutson also praised the benefits of title transfer, and said it was worth the $1 million in costs. The investment paid off because owning the dam and delivery systems allowed his district to secure better prices for upgrades and maintenance without a lot of studies. The BOR currently budgets $160,000 a year to manage the Jackson Gulch Reservoir project. The MWCD believes that they could do the work the bureau does for $20,000 to $40,000 because the district wouldn't have as much administrative overhead. Nationwide, 27 water projects have been fully transferred from the federal government to a local organization.