Coy Ditch

In 1865, John Coy excavated an irrigation canal from the Cache la Poudre River to his farm. The canal was roughly 1.5 miles long and would become known as the Coy Ditch. The Coy Ditch irrigated the Coy family farm located in the bottomlands along the Cache la Poudre River, starting near College and Vine Streets and ending near what is today Lemay Avenue and Magnolia Street. Early settlers preferred the bottomlands because they were rich in nutrients for plant life, but they lacked the regular water necessary to cultivate crops making these types of canals essential along the bottomlands in the development of Fort Collins, which started as a primarily agricultural area.1

The Coy family and their descendants (the Hoffmans) farmed continuously using water from the Coy Ditch for over 100 years. In 1958, the City of Fort Collins bought half of the water rights from the Hoffmans to add to the city’s water supply, necessary for a growing population. The city petitioned to divert the water from further up the river, this resulted in a case known as the B. Coy Hoffman case on whether the water rights purchased actually existed. Petitioners against the diversion claimed that the Hoffmans only used 8 cubic feet of water, therefor the other half of the 16 cubic feet had been abandoned and was no longer owned by the Hoffmans. (See http://www.bouldercounty.org/env/water/pages/qandawaterrights.aspx ). The judge ruled in the petitioners favor, and the Coy Ditch lost half of its 16 cubic feet water rights. The city still purchased half of the water rights from the Hoffmans; however, restrictions on how much water and when they could use water were put in place that greatly affected what the city could use.2

The Coy Ditch still continued to irrigate the land around the Coy Farm, even when the farm was sold around 1980 and developed into Link-N-Greens golf course. After the sale, the Coy Ditch retained half of its original water rights to irrigate the golf course area. The ditch continued to provide irrigation to the golf course through 2012 when the land was again sold. The new owners of the land, Woodward, Inc., had no need for the irrigation ditch, so the remaining water rights were sold in 2013 to the City of Fort Collins for $700,000. The water will no longer be diverted through Coy Ditch for irrigation, but will instead be used to supplement the city’s plans for natural area development and recreation opportunities on the Cache la Poudre River.3

  1. Rose Laflin, “ Irrigation, Settlement, and Change on the Cache La Poudre River,” (Unpublished Manuscript, Prepared for Colorado Water Resources Research Institute, Fort Collins, June 2005) pp 10-15; Mark Holleran, “National Register of Historic Places Nomination Multiple Property Document Nomination Irrigation and Water Supply Ditches and Canals in Colorado, 1787 to 1961,” (National Park Service Denver Service Center, January 2011), 7-8.
  2. Barry Asmus, “Rural-Municipal Water Transfers,” (Unpublished Master’s Thesis, Colorado State University, 1966), 97-107; Tatanka Historical Associated, Inc., “Historic Structures Along the Cache la Poudre River Corridor: Mulberry Street to Shields Street,” (Prepared for Anderson Consulting Engineers Fort Collins, CO, 2013), 3-5, 14-15.
  3. “New Belgium Brewery Helps Fort Collins Acquire Poudre River Water Rights,” North Forty News, May 22, 2013, http://www.northfortynews.com/new-belgium-brewery-helps-fort-collins-acquire-poudre-river-water-rights/; Kevin Duggan, “Fort Collins hopes to boost Poudre River flows: New Belgium grant helped acquire water rights from the historic Coy Ditch,” The Coloradoan, May 22, 2013, http://www.coloradoan.com/article /20130522/NEWS01/305220043/Fort-Collins-hopes-boost-Poudre-River-flows; Colorado Decision Support Systems (CDSS), (Structure Summary Report: John Coy Ditch; accessed May 22, 2014) http://cdss.state.co.us/onlineTools/Pages/StructuresDiversions.aspx.

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