System of Water Sources

Cameo Diversion Dam

Mesa County Irrigation District’s water is diverted from the Colorado River at the Cameo Diversion Dam, and then carried through the Government Highline Canal until it enters the Grand Valley just northeast of the Town of Palisade. The Cameo Diversion Dam also known as the Grand Valley Diversion Dam was completed in 1916. Serving over 33,000 acres, it is the main source of water for the Grand Valley Project and the Orchard Mesa, Mesa County, and Palisade Irrigation Districts. It can divert up to 1,675 cfs from the Colorado River in DeBeque Canyon.

More information on the Cameo Diversion and the Grand Valley Project can be found at

Government Highline Canal

As early as 1908, the Bureau of Reclamation and the District were engaged in discussions involving the carriage of the District’s water in the yet to be constructed government system. It was critical to the success of the government system that the power water used in the hydraulic pumps to lift irrigation water to the Mesa County and Palisade Irrigation Districts be abandoned or somehow conveyed to the United States for use in the government system. In return the government system would convey water for the districts by gravity. 10 years later, on May 31, 1918 a contract between the District and the United States was executed which established that all water used for irrigation of the District be diverted at the headgate installed by the U.S. for the Grand Valley Project (Cameo Diversion) and carried through the Government Highline Canal and made available to the District. This allowed the District to dispense with the operation and maintenance of its pumping plant, dam, and auxiliary works. Currently, the District’s water supply is diverted from the Colorado River at the Government Highline’s Cameo Diversion and carried through the Government Highline Canal for approximately 6 miles to a location where the canal flows from the end of Tunnel Number 3 under Interstate 70 northeast of the Town of Palisade. The District’s water supply is then diverted from the Government Highline Canal at this location.

Stub/ Price Pumping Plant

As the Government Highline Canal exits Tunnel Number 3, water for the Price and Stub ditches is diverted through a 6 ft wide rectangular screened headgate and into a penstock that transports water to the Price/Stub pump house. The pump house was built in 1915 by the Reclamation Service (later becoming the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation) as part of the agreement that allows the Grand Valley Project to use MCID and PID water rights. The Grand Valley Water Users Association operates and maintains the pump house as part of the same agreement.

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