The Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District was formed in 1966 to provide legal authority to plan and construct water conservation projects in the Yampa Valley. Yamcolo and Stagecoach Reservoirs represent two major water conservation projects constructed by the District. Theincludes most of Routt County and a portion of Moffat County.
The District is governed by a board of nine directors. Upon instigation and certification as a district, Upper Yampa was able to collect a levy on general taxes from both Routt and Moffat County. The District is able to maintain its status as the guardian of critical water rights in the Yampa Valley. Through on-going efforts of the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District, residents and wildlife in the valley benefit greatly.
Stagecoach Reservoir captures snow melt and releases it into the Yampa River to supplement low flows and furnish a reliable year-round water supply for agricultural irrigation as well as for municipalities, industry and hydropower generation. This project was conceived in 1983 by the Board of the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District and designed to provide a reliable source of water for the growing population and economy of Northwest Colorado.
Agricultural Water Supply
Productive hay and pasture lands on the head waters of the Yampa River Basin were always short of irrigation water. The need for a reservoir to provide a reliable source of water for the entire growing season was apparent. In the drought year of 1977 with little or no flow in the river, several ranchers did not harvest a single bale of hay. And having no winter feed, they had to sell their herds.
The Yamcolo Reservoir, completed in 1980 was the solution to irrigated agriculture and cattle ranching in the upper end of the valley. Since then there has been an ample supply of water.
River and Diversion Projects During late July and August, the Yampa River drops so low that it is impossible for ranchers to divert irrigation water into their ditch headgates. The ranchers build temporary dams in the river to raise the water level to permit flow into the headgates, but these dams wash out every year causing excessive erosion and environmental damage. The District has embarked on a program to eliminate those dams which impede fish and boat passage and degrage the stream. This is done by building permanent diversion structures or by moving the headgates upstream.