Tomichi Creek – Coats Bros Ditch
Through 2021, the Coats Bros Ditch Project has restored over
of water to Tomichi Creek.
The Coats Bros Ditch diverts water from the west side of Tomichi Creek to irrigate the Kruthaupt Ranch, which is located on Tomichi Creek near Gunnison. The Ditch is decreed for more than 19 cubic feet per second (cfs) under three separate priorities with appropriation dates ranging from 1879 to 1887. The Kruthaupt family owns more than 3 cfs in the two senior-most priorities. In average and dry streamflow years, Tomichi Creek experiences localized dry ups, which negatively impact river connectivity and present barriers to fish migration.
Under this Temporary Instream Flow Lease, Trout Unlimited (TU), the Colorado Water Trust and the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) partnered with the Kruthaupt family to share use of the Coats Bros Ditch for both irrigation and instream flow purposes. During years when the lease is implemented, the Kruthaupts will use the water rights for irrigation of hay meadows and pasture grass on the same land historically irrigated by those water rights.
In July or August, the Kruthaupts will cease diversions, and the CWCB will use Coats Bros Ditch water rights to protect up to 12.3 miles of instream flows in Tomichi Creek. In May 2015, the Division of Water Resources (DWR), Water Division 4, approved the CWCB’s application for a temporary, short-term lease for more than 3 cfs in the Coats Bros Ditch for instream flow.
The Coats Bros Ditch short-term lease for instream flow was implemented in 2018, returning 202.7 acre-feet of water to Tomichi Creek during extreme low-flow conditions.
- Photo Credits: Jesse Kruthaupt
- Project Partners: Trout Unlimited and Colorado Water Conservation Board
- Project Consultants: Tyler Martineau
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