Irrigation ditches traverse the arid West. These ditches were primarily dug to deliver much needed water for irrigation. A couple of articles (1 and 2) this week has confirmed my belief that these relatively inexpensive water delivery systems will play a pivotal role in water allocation and management moving forward.
In my mind, these structures will remain much the same, but the uses will change. These new uses will include flood control, aquifer recharge, groundwater mitigation, wetland development, fisheries management, municipal, domestic, and any additional water market needs that arise–in addition to agriculture of course. Many of these ditches have provided these services all along, there has just never been a market to recognize and capture these values. This is changing.