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Fruitgrowers Project
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Fruitgrowers Project History (PDF - 37KB) (pdf)
General Description| Plan| Development| Benefits


General Description

The Fruitgrowers Dam Project in southwestern Colorado furnishes irrigation water to nearly 2,700 acres of land immediately downstream from the dam. Structures built by the Bureau of Reclamation are Fruitgrowers Dam, Dry Creek Diversion Dam, and Dry Creek Diversion Ditch. Other diversion structures and the canal and lateral system were constructed by private interests.

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Fruitgrowers Reservoir is filled from the natural flow of Alfalfa Run and by diversions from Surface and Dry Creeks. The flow of Dry Creek is diverted by the Dry Creek Diversion Dam, and conveyed through the Dry Creek Diversion Ditch. Surface Creek water is carried through the privately owned Alfalfa Ditch. Water stored in Fruitgrowers Reservoir is released and delivered to project lands through a privately owned system of canals and laterals.

Facility Descriptions

Fruitgrowers Dam, located on Alfalfa Run, is 3 miles north of Austin, Colorado. It is an earthfill, rock-faced structure, 55 feet high and 1,520 feet long, containing 136,000 cubic yards of material. The reservoir stores a total of 4,540 acre-feet of water. The spillway, located on the left side of the dam, is an uncontrolled structure (meaning flows aren't regulated). A 76-foot-long concrete-lined channel discharges into a stilling basin which slows the velocity and reduces the energy of the water. The outlet works consists of one 3-foot diameter pipe controlled by two slide gates.

Dry Creek Diversion Dam and Canal

This diversion dam is 13 feet high and 36 feet long. It contains 200 cubic yards of concrete. The Dry Creek Diversion Ditch is about 3 miles long and has a capacity of 100 cubic feet per second.

Operating Agencies

The Orchard City Irrigation District assumed operation and maintenance of the project works in March 1940.

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Irrigation of lands now encompassed by the Fruitgrowers Dam Project was initiated about 1890. In 1898, settlers built a small dam on Alfalfa Run to provide water storage for their irrigation system. This dam failed on June 13, 1937, resulting in extensive damage. Since the highly developed agricultural area could not be sustained without storage of the late summer water supply, the settlers requested that the Bureau of Reclamation investigate building a new dam.


On the basis of their studies, Reclamation began work on the project in May 1938.


Under section 4 of the act of June 25, 1910 (36 Stat. 835), the Secretary of the Interior recommended, and the President president approved, construction of the project in January 1938. The primary purpose of the project is agriculture.


Reclamation completed construction of the new dam in time for stored water to be delivered to project lands for the 1939 irrigation season.

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The project provides supplemental irrigation for nearly 2,700 acres of land. Principal crops are fruit, small grains, corn, alfalfa, and pasture.

Recreation, Fish & Wildlife

When full, Fruitgrowers Reservoir has a surface area of 476 acres. It receives very little recreation use; however, birdwatching is becoming increasingly popular. The reservoir is a major migration stop and nesting site for a variety of shorebirds and waterfowl.

Flood Control

Although there is no specific reservoir capacity assigned for flood control, the Fruitgrowers Project has provided an accumulated $4,000 in flood control benefits from 1950 to 1999.

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Last updated: May 10, 2011