History of the Cottonwood Ditch Association
The Claimed Priority Date of the Cottonwood Ditch Association regarding surface water from the Verde River is December 10, 1877. The diversion originally was opposite the Pecks Lake at the Old Government Dam, and the ditch extended through ranches on the west side of the Verde River through the Cottonwood and Bridgeport areas. All of these lands are located in the irrigation service area of the Cottonwood Ditch Association.
As is reported by ”Irrigation in the Verde Valley” (publication April, 1997) in 1901, that 1869 was the year of construction of the diversion. The Cottonwood Ditch has been known by several names which include: Upper Verde Reservation Ditch, Old Government Reservation Ditch or Upper Verde Canal. The heading of the Cottonwood Ditch was originally known as the “Winningham Dam”.
The diversion location was relocated to its present position after the 1993 flood destroyed the original canal system. The present diversion location is very near the original heading location which originally was a “brush dam”.
CDA has a gravel/rock constructed Diversion Dam located on the Verde River between Cottonwood and Clarkdale. Approximately 60 CFS is diverted out of the Verde River. The annual volume of water diverted is 8,000 acre feet There are 843.5 acres of irrigated lands located in the service area of the Cottonwood Ditch. Each acre is entitled to a pro-rate share of the 8,000 acre feet annually diverted from the Verde River.
The irrigation Ditch is approximately eight (8) miles long providing irrigation water to farms/ranches, and ranchettes.
The entire length of the Ditch is an “earthen (dirt) ditch” with the exception of a buried covered pipeline located behind Old Town Cottonwood, and a few locations consisting of concrete flumes and/or buried concrete pipe at several major washes.
In the early 1900’s, the farmers and ranchers traded out their irrigation dues assessment in exchange for cleaning the Ditch out during the annual spring maintenance. They used their teams of horses with fresnos and/or slips to clean the Ditch. Most all of the maintenance work was done by hand labor or horses.
Most of the farm and ranch properties were larger operations than today. Some of the old families who owned irrigated properties on the Cottonwood Ditch were Willard, Strahan, Siler, Areghini, Franquero, Patterson, Shivers, Kerley, Zimerman, Perez, Sullivan, Kellum, Scott, Hamilton, VanDeren, Jordan, Groseta, Plecas, Wiggins, Mongini, Boban, Gaulich & Ryan.
Today, there are fewer large farm and ranch properties, with many of them split into ranchettes.
The Cottonwood Ditch along with all of the other irrigation ditches in the Verde Valley provide a main source of “recharge” to the Verde River system. When water is used for irrigation purposes, much of it percolates through the soils and/or is directly returned to the Verde River. Irrigation Ditch Associations have created major riparian corridors along the creeks/streams for the benefit of not only property owners who use the irrigation water, but for the thousands of other residents in our communities.
These enlarged and enhanced riparian areas also benefit wildlife and threatened and endangered species.
In addition to food production, irrigated lands provide many amenities including, but not limited to open space, shade for livestock and people, lower temperatures during the summers, and higher property values. The Board of Directors encourages the wise use of water conservation priorities among our shareholders.
The Cottonwood Ditch Association is very proud to provide all of these amenities to make our community a better place to live.
Officers & Board of Directors
Andy Groseta, President & Ditch Boss
928-634-4333 (ranch office)
David Mongini, Vice President
Bill Wade, Secretary/Treasurer
Bob DeGeer, Board Member
Judd Wasden, Board Member
Mary Beth Groseta, Clerk
The Cottonwood Ditch Association conducts the Annual Membership and Board of Directors Meeting the third Wednesday each January. However, the January 20th Annual Board Meeting has been cancelled due to COVID concerns. All Members and the public are invited to attend and review the Ditch management and Operations, financial reports and Member questions and comments.
A quorum for the meeting is based on a majority of shareholders present or by proxy. As part of the Meeting, the Board of Directors is elected.