Ditches and Canals

Ditches are natural or constructed watercourses that can be open, covered, or tiled and are typically used for the purpose of irrigation or drainage of agricultural land. Canals are artificial waterways constructed  to convey water for irrigation or drainage of agricultural land.

Over 9,800 miles of ditches and canals exist in Utah which carry more than 5 cubic feet per second of water, and perhaps twice that many more in smaller canals. This figure does not include the thousands of miles of drainage ditches, which make land farmable and carry return flows back to streams.

These thousands of miles of canals irrigate a majority of the 1.1 million acres of irrigated agricultural land in Utah, of which about three-quarters is harvested cropland and the remaining one-quarter is irrigated pasture used for livestock grazing.

Canals and ditches in urban settings also serve municipal and industrial interests. They supply water for industrial processes; deliver secondary water to suburban lawns; move stormwater away from threatened homes, businesses, and institutions; and support wetlands and other riparian environments that would otherwise be lost.

More information about canals can be found by visiting the Utah Division of Water Rights.

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