Gunnison River: New dam will replace the Relief Ditch diversion structure

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Click here (scroll down) for photos and a description of the ongoing work from the Gunnison Gorge Anglers.

From the Montrose Daily Press (Will Hearst):

Anyone who has ever rafted down a river likely has encountered a strainer — a potentially dangerous feature, most often a log jam, that lets water through but traps larger, solid items being carried downstream, including boats and bodies.

For many years, the Relief Ditch Diversion on the Gunnison River just upstream from Austin has consisted of rocks, concrete slabs and vertical steel bars. The purpose of the structure is to divert water to the farming fields east of Delta. But the side effects include a danger to river users, a virtual wall for migrating fish and a lot of work for the Relief Ditch Irrigation Company.

On Thursday, ground was broken on a new $750,000 dam designed to solve those problems for all involved, including three species of rare fish that call the river home. The catalyst for the project was Trout Unlimited, a coldwater conservation organization, but it also was made possible by the collaboration of the Bureau of Land Management and the Relief Ditch Irrigation Company.

Follow this link to the removal and replacement of a push-up dam up in Oregon if you want to learn a bit about the dam type.

More Gunnison River Basin coverage here and here.

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