Andy Mueller, General Manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, recently updated the Town of Kremmling board members on expected maintenance on Wolford Reservoir this spring.
Mueller stated Wolford Reservoir is a 30-year old facility and significant maintenance of replacing and fixing valves would be done this summer. Also slated for replacement is the 16,000 pound steel main gate that is not operating properly.
In anticipation of the maintenance, large barges were already delivered to Wolford Reservoir so that when the ice completely melts it can be placed on the water.
The barge will act as a platform with cranes and will be utilized by the deep-sea divers to help replace the gate that is 150 feet down in the reservoir
Ideally, Mueller emphasized the work would be completed before the water level in the reservoir stars to rise.
“As soon as the ice is off the reservoir, we want that barge on the reservoir and have the work conducted before the reservoir starts to rise. Every foot of depth costs more money because divers have to modify the time they can stay at that depth.”
Mueller said the higher snowpack was exciting this year but could impact the work to be done. “We don’t have a lot of time between ice-off and when the reservoir begins to fill.”
At the end of March, there was still approximately 20-22 inches of ice on Wolford. Today the ice remains at approximately 17 inches.
The deep-sea divers can work with the reservoir discharging 20-40 cubic feet of water per second (cfs). To accommodate this release, Mueller commented, “To keep the reservoir level down and to keep the flow we are required to keep for the Shoshone power plant call, we may have to fluctuate the river in a diurnal fluctuation.” Which would require releasing more at night, causing the Muddy Creek to raise. He expected discharge during the night could reach 450 cfs.
“We are reaching out to landowners who may be impacted,” said Mueller. “We don’t want to interfere with people’s operations down there.”
Town trustee and rancher, Dave Sammons asked about the impact of a quick run-off and the dam filling quickly. He also noted that 450 cfs is out of the banks at his family’s property.
If releasing the increased cfs at night is not feasible, Mueller said contractors would be paid to work at full levels of the reservoir rather than postpone operations. “It would cost more money to postpone,” Mueller said of absorbing the higher costs. Overall, the project is expected to cost approximately $500,000 and depending on the ice melt could be completed throughout May.
“We are expecting a normal season of operation and will not be drawing the dam down in the fall. The work should not impact reservoir operations,” Mueller cautioned, however, “pulling the barges out at the end of May or beginning of June could potentially impact the recreation season because we will be doing the barge removal at the boat ramps.”
Jeff Miller retiring as recreation contractor.
Mueller noted Jeff Miller will be retiring as the recreation contractor after October 31. Miller has served as the contractor since 2002.
The position will be posted in mid-April and interested parties are encouraged to bid. Mueller said the partnership with Miller was advantageous because Miller lived in the community and hoped other locals would apply. There would be a mandatory pre-bid meeting in May.
We are hoping for a smooth transition,” highlighted Kem Davidson, project operator at Wolford Reservoir. She noted there would be opportunities for the new contractor to work with Miller before the end of October.
Denver Water becomes part-owner in 2020
Mueller highlighted that currently Denver Water leases 40% of the interest in the Wolford Reservoir but would become a 40% owner in 2020. This agreement was made contractually when the dam was built. Mueller said this would not impact how the Reservoir operated and the public would not notice the change. The changes would be made at the organizational level, and the Colorado River District will continue to operate the reservoir.
After the crest of the dam was heightened three-feet last year, a crack appeared in the road base on the road after a freeze/thaw this winter.
When Davidson found the crack, the Dam Safety Office was notified and other Grand County emergency officials were alerted. The crack is being monitored and no unusual movement has been recorded.
“It was an overabundance of caution,” noted Mueller who said additional excavation may occur this summer to further confirm their suspicions the crack is only cosmetic on the road.