West Salt Creek landslide update: Residents warned to be prepared to move quickly out of path

West Salt Creek landslide May 2014 via The Denver Post
West Salt Creek landslide May 2014 via The Denver Post

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

Residents below the West Salt Creek landslide remained on notice Tuesday that they might have to flee on short notice should more water burst from the pond high above on Grand Mesa.

Mesa County officials on Tuesday said they were concerned that a significant amount of snowfall remains to melt and flow into the drainage, known as the “sag pond.”

The banks holding the pond left by the 2-year-old landslide ruptured last week, sending some 120 acre-feet of water rushing down the landslide, scouring Salt Creek Road as it gouged out a deep gorge through the 3-mile length of the slide.

The flood burst as the level of water in the pond topped the 20-foot level and officials said Tuesday the pond depth was at 15 feet and appearing to stabilize.

No movement of the slide mass, however, was detected.

“Right now the landslide is doing what we want and expect it to do,” the Sheriff’s Office said. “However, if Mother Nature decides to move more land down the landslide, we want residents to be ready to evacuate.”

The rush of water last week spilled onto two natural gas well pads, one of which already was shut down. The second, which was farther from the slide, was closed immediately following the slide, officials said.

Laramie Energy, which owns the wells, is prepared for the possibility that the pond might breach, said David Ludlam, executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

Laramie contained some rust and scale inhibitor that spilled from a drum and none of the liquid left the site, Ludlam said.

State regulators were notified and no pipelines were affected.

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