Fraser River is 680 tons better

From October 21-22, 2013, crews worked to remove sediment from settling pond on the Fraser River on the east side of U.S. Highway 40 near the entrance of the Mary Jane ski area. (Photo courtesy of Colorado Department of Transportation)

Oct. 21-22, 2013, crews worked to remove sediment from settling pond on the Fraser River. (Photo courtesy of the Colorado Department of Transportation.)

Hot Sulphur Springs, Colo. — The Fraser River is breathing a bit better after 680 tons of sediment — created by sand applied to Berthoud Pass to improve winter driving conditions — were removed.

Completed in 2011, a project between entities on both sides of the divide to construct a settling pond on the Fraser River has paid off.

The settling pond was constructed in Denver Water’s existing diversion facility. The project included building an access road and establishing a mitigation pond – or, new wetland area – downstream of the project. The settling pond traps and removes sediment that enters the Fraser River below Berthoud Pass. This project builds on previous efforts funded by a Colorado Nonpoint Source Program grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which involved an initial construction phase years ago and helped pay for this new design.

The cooperative effort was initiated to improve habitat in the Fraser River. Each year, CDOT evaluates whether the pond needs to be cleaned out. Once the decision is made, Denver Water operates its facility to divert the river around the settling pond, which allows CDOT to remove the debris. CDOT works with Grand County to dispose of the material.

The work to clean out the pond occurred Oct. 21-22, and the project was successful in removing 680 tons of sediment from the settling pond.

“Sediment impact to the Fraser River has been a major concern of many citizens,” said Grand County Commissioner James Newberry. “The sediment captured and removed from the detention pond is significant and will help address that issue.”

Crews work to construct the settling pond on the Fraser River on the east side of U.S. Highway 40 near the entrance of the Mary Jane ski area. (Photo taken September 2011.)

Crews work to construct the settling pond on the Fraser River on the east side of U.S. Highway 40 near the entrance of the Mary Jane ski area. (Photo taken September 2011.)

“We are happy that it is a successful project and believe it demonstrates the benefit of collaboration, ingenuity and the value of the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement,” said Dave Little, director of planning for Denver Water.

“This process is very important for keeping the Fraser River clean — so there are many stakeholders,” said Andy Hugley, CDOT maintenance supervisor for the east Grand County area. “Our plan is to clean the sediment pond each fall, but that could vary depending on water flows and how much sediment has been collected during the previous winter.”

The project was funded through multiple partners. Led by president Kirk Klancke beginning in 2002, the East Grand Water Quality Board acquired a grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and the Colorado River Roundtable in 2008 for $187,900 to construct the settling pond. Grand County administered the grant and contributed more than $45,000. In addition, CDOT contributed more than $175,000 toward project engineering and construction. As part of the enhancements recently agreed to in the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement, Denver Water contributed more than $95,000 toward construction, and managed project construction.

The settling pond, located on the east side of U.S. Highway 40 near the entrance of the Mary Jane ski area, was the result of collaboration between CDOT, Denver Water, Grand County and Town of Winter Park, along with the U.S. Forest Service-Sulphur Ranger District, East Grand Water Quality Board, Army Corps of Engineers and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

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