When the CC Ditch washed out on June 8 outside of Nucla, West End water shareholders did what they’ve been doing for more than a century in rallying together to do what needed to be done. 

Stan Galley, the Colorado Cooperative Company Ditch board president, told The Norwood Post that upon investigation, the ditch appeared to have been leaking through the bank for some time and then ended up washing out about 175 feet of the waterway, leaving the area without its source of raw water. 

The oldest water right on the San Miguel River and established in the late 1800s, the ditch runs 17 miles from the old site of Pinion and made the town of Nucla, otherwise a desert, possible. 

Not having water in early June sounded an alarm for shareholders who have animals, crops, gardens, fruit trees and fields. 

“We didn’t have any water on the morning of June 9,” Galley said.

As a result, Dean Naslund, who is the ditch superintendent, went to see what the issue was and found water running across the road below the head gate.

“We basically started work that afternoon-evening to start getting it fixed,” Galley said. 

And that work took a few weeks to accomplish. 

Shareholders had to dig about 15 feet back into the hillside to set the ditch back. There was no bank left. Then, they poured a concrete floor, and next a wall.

“You could see where they stacked rock and filled dirt,” Galley said. “It had been there 120 years before it gave out.”

The CC Ditch board hired Monty Spor, since he had the right size excavator. He and Chas Burbridge dug the hillside out.

“I was pretty impressed by that,” Galley said. “Monty got the machine out there and started digging at 2:30 p.m., and then by the next day had it to grade. … By the weekend, they started forming the grade and got the floor all ready.”

Galley’s family has been using CC ditchwater since its inception. His grandmother’s step-dad, a Bowen, was involved in constructing the ditch. A farmer and rancher, Galley said not having water in Nucla was difficult. For him, his corn suffered, and things got pretty dry. He’d already started haying, though, so he went ahead and cut hay and tried to be ready for when the water came back on. 

His cows are on the mountain this summer, so he didn’t have to worry about his livestock. 

Still, he admitted most people in Nucla were pretty nervous about not having water for a few weeks.

He’s not surprised at the level of work local farmers and ranchers exhibited to fix the ditch.

“That’s the way these small communities are,” he said. “They get after it and get it done. The water was back on June 22.”

Last week, Galley reported that the ditch was not back “at a full head” at that point. He said Naslund wanted to make sure the fix worked properly, like they wanted it to, before they started using water like they normally do. 

He added that a few years ago, there was a smaller washout. That happened in October, though, and occurred at the end of the water season. He said the last time was easier to shut the water off and fix the ditch. That break was about 85-90 feet and not nearly as big as the 2021 washout.

Galley said on behalf of the CC Ditch board, the thanked all of the people that “pitched in and got it done as quickly as possible.”