Frequently Asked Questions
View our most asked questions below.
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How do I maintain my private ditch?
In the spring the landowner should burn the grass and trash in their ditch. This will allow them to see any problems with the banks or bottom. It will also let the water flow unhindered by the dead grass. It should stop some of the problems of plugging of structures.
The next thing the user should do is make sure that their parshall flume is in working order. This is done by first making sure that the parshall is level. This means you should make sure that the entrance bottom of the parshall is level down the centerline and side to side. Make sure that there are no holes under or along the sides so that all the water goes through the parshall. The water should pond slightly in front of the parshall so that the correct velocity is achieved in the parshall. If the water runs too fast through the parshall, you will receive less water than you deserve.
A ditch shaped like a trapezoid is the best shape.The next thing is to clean the ditch. The farmer would normally use a V Ditcher behind a tractor. A ditch shaped like a trapezoid is the best shape. If a V Ditcher is not available, a small track hoe or backhoe is your next best option. This will cut more of a square ditch, but this will work also.
Your ditch should be cleaned on both sides as well as the bottom. A qualified operator should be able to determine if more material should be taken from one or the other. Taking more material out of the ditch is to be avoided, as this will make future ditch cleans harder.
Does the property have irrigation water?
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What kind of water am I buying?
Adjudicated water, sometimes called flood or river water, comes directly from the diversions of the Florida River. Adjudicated water rights are generally transferred by water stock certificates from the ditch company. Assessments for delivery of adjudicated water are billed annually by the ditch company.
Project water is water stored at Lemon Dam. This water is stored in acre feet, but all flowing water is delivered in cubic feet per second (c.f.s.). Project water rights are usually transferred on the land deed. Assessments for project water are billed with your property taxes.
Is the property in a subdivision, or do I share a headgate?
In most subdivisions, there is a designated water person who calls the ditch rider for water for the entire subdivision. Where several landowners share a headgate, the principle of cooperative delivery also applies. It is impossible to deliver less than one quarter c.f.s., so smaller users receive delivery together to ensure everyone gets their water. Subdivisions will often have a shared rotation schedule.
How do ditch companies operate?
The Florida Consolidated Ditch Company is a non-profit corporation established to deliver water to owners. The ditch company has a board of directors, a secretary to handle the office business, two ditch riders, who controls the actual water flow. An annual shareholder meeting is held to elect directors, establish the budget, and to discuss any other shareholder concerns. Operations are governed by the By-laws of the ditch company, and Colorado corporate law.
Do I have enough water to irrigate my land?
One c.f.s. flowing one day is the equivalent of two acre feet in one 24-hour period. A general rule of thumb: it usually takes one c.f.s. to irrigate 80 acres.
There is a ditch running across my property, but I don’t own any water rights. May I use some of this water to irrigate?
Sorry, but no. The only landowners who have a legal right to use the ditch water are those who own shares in the ditch company or project water. It’s hard to see that water right there and not use it, but remember there are heavy fines and potential incarceration for theft of water.
Is it okay to plant my garden next to the ditch?
The ditch company holds either a descriptive easement (established by historic usage) along both sides of the ditch. According to state statutes, the ditch company may use as much land along the ditch banks as they need for maintenance of the ditch. Don’t be surprised if you see a trackhoe going along the ditch bank, or the spoils of cleaning operations placed on the ditch bank. Any structures or plantings within 15 feet of the ditch are usually prohibited.
I own one share of the water. How much is that?
One cubic foot per second of water is equal to 448 gallons of water per minute. There are 40 shares in one c.f.s.. One share is equal to 0.025 c.f.s., or about 11 gallons per minute. In one 3-inch measuring box, this is about 1/8 inch.