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When the Grand Valley Drainage District (GVDD) was created in 1915 by the Colorado Legislature it dealt mainly with irrigation water in a valley primarily devoted to agriculture. Today the District handles the return of nearly a billion gallons of water a day diverted from the Colorado River during irrigation season for agricultural and urban use, along with regulated storm water runoff.

In its early years, the GVDD system was fairly simple. Open ditches were dug to lower the water table and carry away some of the ground water that had grown too salty for farming. The ditches ran directly into the Colorado River or ended in natural washes. That effort allowed the valley to remain green, ensured that agriculture would flourish and that citizens would benefit from millions of dollars in agribusiness every year.

With growth in the valley, the mission of the GVDD expanded to a system of 258 miles of pipes and ditches to handle irrigation water utilizing the original pipe system.

In 1981, the Mesa County Commissioners asked the GVDD to assume the additional responsibility for urban storm water that runs off roofs, sidewalk, parking lots and streets during rainstorms. The 1972 Federal Clean Water Act deemed storm water runoff a pollutant. As a result, in 1983 the GVDD statute was amended, allowing the District to charge storm water fees to handle the increased government regulations required by the Clean Water Act.

Drainage is not something that comes to mind when thinking about economic development and quality of life in the Grand Valley. But, in truth, it provides the underpinning of the valley as we know it today, and as it will be in the future. All customers in the District service area do not have to have their property directly discharge in to a GVDD structure to receive the benefit of the system. The GVDD system established the ground water table from which all benefit.