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As Shut-Off Looms, Shareholders Criticize Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company

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Austin Cope
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Irrigation ditch in Montezuma County.

Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company announced a tentative water shut-off for August 29 — a decision rumored among shareholders and farmhands since the start of the month. 

In previous years, shut-offs often took place in September or October, when water and weather conditions were more favorable for irrigation. This year, a strong drought combined with accusations of mismanagement bring a higher chance of an August shut-off.

 

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one employee of a few shareholders described the sentiment toward contacting the company’s office for information as a “dead end.” The source also described the board as “an old boys’ club” that keeps shareholders in the dark on decision making.

 

Another anonymous source told KSJD that management is not holding those “abusing their share” of water accountable. Multiple sources also noted that the company’s recent lack of communication was odd.

 

A note sent out to residents of Lee Mobile Home Park in Dolores is believed to be the first leak of information on the shut-off. Park management cited an “unnamed inside source” on August 2 when issuing this warning to residents: “Water your bushes, trees and flowers now while you can.”

 

Earlier this month, the company also announced restricting headgates to 75 percent of allocated shares to a holder. Around this same time, KSJD received a tip about the shut-off but was not able to verify it prior to last week’s announcement.

 

Update (August 22): Brandon Johnson, general manager at Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company, did not return a request for comment.