Water rules the West. I learned that guiding on western rivers, gardening in our arid climate, and paying attention to battles over western water. 35 years ago, the river I loved and learned to row on was drowned by New Melones Dam, to irrigate California agriculture. Now, my own irrigation water is coveted by the City. Water wars continue.
Many people nowadays do not have a good understanding of water issues or irrigation. People blithely say that water for development along the Front Range will come from agricultural water. Agricultural water is ditch water. And irrigation ditches have radically altered our Front Range environment over the last 150 years. Our Front Range ecosystem, the variety and beauty of our pastoral landscapes, the productivity of our agricultural lands all depend on ditch water. Most people are not aware of what they will lose if our ditches are de-watered for development.
When I learned that the founding of Boulder coincided with the digging of Boulder's first irrigation ditch, I decided to join Boulder's Sesquicentennial celebrations and put together a show about Boulder's ditches. I knew that Boulder's citizens needed to know more about ditches in order to decide whether ditches are important to them. I pictured a show that described irrigation ditches in multiple ways, using art, literature, facts, maps, ecology, history, film, story-telling, and more.
I have organized other group shows in Boulder, but this one is unique in its size, scope, and ability to keep expanding. Don't miss The Ditch Project! I promise that you will discover much you didn't know about your neighbors and neighborhood.
Elizabeth Black's work can be viewed at ElizabethBlackArt.com, or Mary Williams Fine Art in Boulder.