Plans to rebuild U.S. 34 still a work in progress — Estes Park Trail-Gazette

Flood damage Big Thompson Canyon September 2013 -- photo via Northern Water
Flood damage Big Thompson Canyon September 2013 — photo via Northern Water

From the Estes Park Trail-Gazette (David Persons):

In spite of what has been reported recently about the work which will likely start in late spring or early summer and last for two years or more, CDOT officials say there are just too many moving parts to say with any certainty just how long the $129 million project will take and how it will impact area residents and businesses.

“We honestly do not know a lot of these answers as the team is working to determine a lot of these variables,” said Jared Fiel, CDOT’s Communication Manager for Region 4. “The big thing to realize is that we have extensive outreach planned for the entire corridor in advance of any of the work starting.

“We will be having public meetings with both residents and businesses as well as a telephone town hall format for users of the corridor such as part-time residents, commuters, etc.”

When asked about the two-year construction time frame, Fiel said it will probably be two years.

“We are working at determining the actual scope and extent of the work to be done,” Fiel said. “Some of our early estimates for some aspects of the job proved to be too low, mainly based on logistics, meaning (as an example) if we are blasting rock in one place, we need to have a location on the corridor that needs that aggregate so we don’t have to pay more to have it shipped out, only to be brought back in later.”

Some have reported that the project will be done in stages.

“Again, probably,” Fiel said. “With the size and extent of this work, we will probably need to do different stages. How those stages (or construction packages) work, when they will happen, and if there will be overlap, are all to be determined.”


One thing that will almost definitely occur is the rerouting of Front Range (Fort Collins and Loveland) traffic to U.S. Highway 36 in Lyons as the major route to Estes Park, adding an extra half-hour of driving time.

“When construction begins in earnest, that is probably going to be a good idea,” Fiel said. “We will have detours available when (and if) we need to do any road or lane closures. We will also communicate this far in advance of any work going on.”

The section of U.S. 34 from Loveland to Estes Park, that winds through the narrows of the Big Thompson Canyon and past several smaller communities like Drake, was heavily damaged by the September 2013 flood event.

During the flooding, watershed runoff combined with flows released from Lake Estes Dam, and surges from debris dam breaches, produced huge flow surges that exceeded a 500-year flood event. As a result, the canyon section sustained widespread, massive damage.

Major sections of roadway were washed away completely, along with access bridges and retaining walls. In the narrows, much of the roadway and grade were undermined, washing out the pavement from below and exposing the wall support structures.

Temporary repairs were completed and the highway was reopened to traffic in both directions on Thursday, November 11, 2013. CDOT and its contractors worked from both the east and west ends of the canyon to assess and repair the damage and restore local access as quickly as possible. Emergency repairs were extensive and included removing debris, re-establishing shoulders and embankments, replacing damaged asphalt, filling washed out sections with concrete fill, repairing local access structures, and repairing damaged drainage structures.

After a couple years of doing research and design work, CDOT is ramping up for the permanent repair and/or rebuilt of U.S. 34. CDOT has named Kiewit Infrastructure Co. to serve as the Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) for this project.

Permanent repairs will include removing and replacing much of the temporary asphalt, embankment fill, and temporary channel protection; as well as re-vegetating, replacing guardrails, and repairing fencing. Some of the roadway sections that were not destroyed, but experienced flood water overtopping the roadway, will be analyzed and possibly replaced, according to information on CDOT’s website.

For more information about the project and updates, go online to

Broomfield City Council approves $3.7 million wastewater facility expansion — Broomfield Enterprise

Wastewater Treatment Process
Wastewater Treatment Process

From The Broomfield Enterprise (Jennifer Rios):

Broomfield City Council gave the green light for the wastewater treatment facility to seek proposals for expansion to their laboratory and administrative office space.

Councilmembers unanimously passed six consent agenda items Tuesday night without discussion…

The Environmental Services Division in Public Works provides laboratory services to the Water and Wastewater Treatment facilities. The laboratories share staff, space and equipment between the two facilities to comply with all water and wastewater regulations in an efficient and cost effective manner.

“The laboratory at the water treatment facility, constructed in 1997, is adequately seized for the staff and work load,” a memo reads. “The laboratory at the wastewater treatment facility, constructed in 1987, has not been expanded to keep up with the additional staff and work lead increase over the last 28 years.”

The lab was built with work space for two staff member, and does not support the five employees and equipment added since 1987.

Burns & McDonnell, a Denver-based engineering firm, was retained in late 2014 to complete a study for the facility, east of Lowell Boulevard on West 124th Avenue, and determined the existing space was about half of the size that is typical for the staffing and testing performed at the facility.

Construction costs are estimated between $3.7 million to $3.8 million, according to a city memo. That amount is included in the 2016 budget.

Fort Collins plans an 800 foot bore to bypass Michigan Ditch pipeline section

Michigan Ditch photo via
Michigan Ditch photo via

From the Fort Collins Coloradan (Kevin Duggan):

The city of Fort Collins is preparing to pay $6.3 million to repair a water pipeline more than 60 miles from city limits.

This would be on top of about $2 million already directed toward dealing with a section of Michigan Ditch that was taken out by a slow-moving landslide south of Cameron Pass.

That’s a lot of money. But given the value and importance of the city’s water supply system, the expenditure is necessary and well-spent, city officials say.

Michigan Ditch moves water from the upper Michigan River basin high in the mountains to the Poudre River basin and city-owned Joe Wright Reservoir.

Portions of the 6-mile-long ditch are open, but a stretch of the ditch carries water through a 54-inch iron pipeline. A 2015 landslide separated the pipeline at its joints, filling it with mud and taking the ditch out of commission.

The city plans to bore an 800-foot tunnel through bedrock behind the slide to protect the pipeline from further disruption. Construction is expected to begin in spring with the goal of having the pipeline ready to carry water in time for the 2017 spring runoff…

the city needs to get the pipeline fixed in order to meet long-term obligations under the terms of a water-use agreement involving Fort Collins, Platte River Power Authority and the Water Supply and Storage Co.

Water from Joe Wright Reservoir and nearby Chambers Lake also must be released to meet terms of an agreement between Fort Collins and Greeley to support aquatic life in the Poudre River, according to city documents.

Erie seeks bids for water plant project — The Denver Post

The water treatment process
The water treatment process

From The Denver Post:

The Town of Erie is accepting bids for the design and construction of the Water Plant Solids Handling Equipment Project at the town’s water treatment facility.

The project includes moving the plant’s powdered-activated carbon system and providing carbon storage. The town also plans to explore options for pretreating water to reduce unwanted tastes and odors.

Bids are being accepted through 3 p.m. Feb. 19.

For more information, visit

The latest newsletter from The City of Greeley’s Water Conservation Program is hot off the presses

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

If you notice an unexplained large spike in water use or want to find a way to lower your water bill, it may be time for a free water audit. It’s a personalized consultation on your water use. Our auditors will also install new showerheads and faucet aerators. Sign up today!

#ColoradoRiver: Greeley Water & Sewer Board authorizes Chimney Hollow (Windy Gap Firming) expenditure

Site of proposed Chimney Hollow Reservoir -- Windy Gap Firming Project via the Longmont Times-Call
Site of proposed Chimney Hollow Reservoir — Windy Gap Firming Project via the Longmont Times-Call

From The Greeley Tribune (Catharine Sweeney):

Officials are working to make one of Greeley’s supplemental water suppliers more reliable, and the city may sign off on another million dollars to do it soon.

The Windy Gap Firming Project has been ongoing for decades. The goal: add to an existing water system by building the Chimney Hollow reservoir near Loveland to store more water from the Colorado River.

The current phase of the project includes finalizing some permitting and finding a designer. Greeley is splitting the project cost with 12 other agencies, and its share of this phase is about $1.1 million.

The Greeley Water and Sewer Board authorized the expense during its meeting Wednesday, but it has to get permission from the city council. That should happen next month.

The money will come out of the water and sewer board’s budget, which is funded and handled separately from the rest of the city departments.

Each user foots the bill for the project, and it’s pro-rated based on who will get the most water from it. Greeley is slated to get the third most. Platte River Power Authority is first.

The Windy Gap water system has been giving water to Greeley and a dozen other providers for decades. It gets water out of the Colorado River, where water access is competitive. Different agencies and projects have water rights, which prioritize them above one another and dictate how much water they are allowed.

During dry spells, some water rights aren’t good enough.

“There are some years where Windy Gap can’t give a drop of water,” said Brian Werner, a spokesman for Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. “Chimney Hollow guarantees they will have a yield.”

In the good years, when Windy Gap’s water rights allow it to take water, that water will travel through a pipeline into the reservoir. Windy Gap users can then use reservoir water during dry years.

In addition to coordinating the agencies participating in the project, Northern Water oversees the pipeline infrastructure used to move water from the Western Slope to the eastern half of the state.

The organization tends to head up multi-jurisdictional water projects, which can be grueling. Both Windy Gap and the region’s other predominant water storage effort, the Northern Integrated Supply Project, have been in permitting for more than a decade. But Windy Gap is making progress.

“We certainly see a light at the end of the tunnel for this project,” Werner said.

At the end of 2014, the Bureau of Reclamation, a federal agency that oversees natural resources such as water, signed off on the project. Now, they only need two more permits — one from Colorado that certifies water quality and one from the Army Corps of Engineers that guarantees wetland mitigation.

That brings the organizers into the next phase of planning: finding a firm to design the project. They’ll take the original plans from 12 years ago and refine them, Werner said.

Once that design is finished, the agencies will find a contractor to build the reservoir. Werner said, fingers crossed, that will happen in late 2018 or in 2019.

The Chimney Hollow reservoir will hold about 90,000 acre-feet of water.

HB 15-1778: Dewatering grant applications moving forward — The Sterling Journal-Advocate

Map of the South Platte River alluvial aquifer subregions -- Colorado Water Conservation Board via the Colorado Water Institute
Map of the South Platte River alluvial aquifer subregions — Colorado Water Conservation Board via the Colorado Water Institute

From the Sterling Journal-Advocate (Callie Jones):

The Logan County Commissioners heard an update on the dewatering grant Country Club Hills and Pawnee Ridge subdivisions are applying for during a work session Tuesday. Geologist Alan Horn spoke about how the funds will be used and the timeline for submitting the grant applications. The county is acting as a fiscal agent for the grant funds.

The grant program came about when House Bill 15-1778 was signed into law by the governor last year. The bill authorizes the Colorado Water Conservation Board, in collaboration with the State Engineer, to administer a grant program for emergency dewatering of areas in and around Gilcrest and Sterling.

Horn explained each subdivision will submit its own separate grant application, because the issues in each subdivision are different.

A total of $580,000 in grant funding is available for Sterling and Gilcrest, $290,000 for each fiscal year, 2016 and 2017.

“What I feel like would be the best way to approach this would be to try to get something as quickly as possible that could provide immediate relief for these residents in these areas,” Horn said, explaining they would like to start with temporary pipelines laying on the ground, then in the second fiscal year they could apply for funding “that would be sufficient to come out and do the excavation and bury these pipelines.”

In the Pawnee Ridge Subdivision, there are two locations that have been having trouble with high water conditions, Dakota Road and Westwood Drive, near the intersection of Westwood and Summit Drive.

Horn said on Dakota Road what he would like to do is put in a temporary pipeline and take the St. John dewatering well and a dewatering well next door, on Gene Thim’s property, manifold them together and then pump the water up so that it would discharge into the drainage and drain down into the Gentz pond, which is a natural drainage, and then the water would be bypassed on down to the river. When the water level drops work would be done to make the pipeline permanent.

Both wells will pump a total of about 400 gallons a minute.

In the Westwood area there only a couple of houses that have typically been having issues, so he would like to excavate and install a subsurface drain, which would go along Westwood Drive and would have a couple of laterals going up into the property at 18188 Westwood Dr. Horn said the homeowner, Michael Negley, installed a temporary drain several years ago when problems were real bad. Grant funds will be used to install it at a deeper level and “do a little more professional job.”

The PRN 3 well is being used to monitor the water conditions there. Horn noted as of early December the water was only about half a foot below ground surface at that well.

Water from the subsurface drain will make its way to a swell that goes into the Springdale Ditch. Horn estimated there will be no more than 50 to 100 gallons a minute draining out of this area once the drain is installed. He told the commissioners he doesn’t anticipate any damage to property.

Horn brought right of way applications for both Dakota Road and Westwood Drive. Rocky Samber asked if fees are being paid through the grant. Horn wanted to know if the county could waive those fees, which would be $100 to $200 each, because it would be helpful to the project funding availability and the CWCB looks favorably toward applicants that put forth some kind of services or funds. Samber asked if the county in the past has exempted permit fees; Horn said he believes they have.

The commissioners did not make a decision.

For the Country Club Hills Subdivision, all work will take place on public land that is being held in trust by the county, which requires a permit from the county. Horn explained they would like to excavate and install a concrete sump with an inlet structure to the little pond that’s by Cottonwood Lane. Then via a temporary pipeline to begin with — which would be made permanent later — the water would be pumped under Forest Road, under Cottonwood Lane and over to the Springdale Ditch.

He said Springdale Ditch has agreed in principal to work them on this and allow this water to be discharged to their ditch and then conveyed back to the river. Horn pointed out the good news is the water doesn’t seem to be rising as much in Country Club Hills as it is in Pawnee Ridge, so hopefully there will be some extra time to get the agreement with Springdale Ditch in place.

The pipeline will be for to six inches and will pump about 100 gallons a minute.

There was a question about who will pay for the power. The first couple of years it will be paid for by the grant funding and Scott Szabo, a resident of the subdivision, has said that he will pay for the power for future dewatering issues. Horn said there may be other residents that would be amenable to joining with him to help pay for the power.

Dave Donaldson asked if Gilcrest is more prepared to move forward than Sterling. Horn said Gilcrest has already received some funds, $80,000 or $90,000, but they’re running into some difficulties that are preventing them from expending the funds that have already been awarded. He is confident there will be enough funds for Sterling.

Horn said he hopes to have a draft application for the CWCB to review finished by the end of January. On Feb. 17 the South Platte Groundwater Basin Technical Committee will be meeting and will review the applications and pass them on to the CWCB, which will review them in mid-March. Funding should be available in mid-April.