Monday, September 25, 2000
Steamboat Springs After draining the lower Spring Creek Reservoir five feet below the spillway last year, the city has decided to empty the old reservoir and build a park with a pond in its place. The dam, which was built in 1903 as an early source of municipal drinking water, will be breached by the end of October.
"What it will bring to this issue is that in a very narrow canyon where we have little space, it will ultimately provide more park space," said Parks and Recreation Director Chris Wilson.
The reservoir is currently sandwiched between Spring Creek Road and a steep hill covered in evergreens.
The parks and recreation department undertook the task of emptying the lower reservoir with pumps that diverted the creek water around the reservoirs into an existing diversion channel. A few feet of water still remain at the site of the old lower reservoir, though about half of the reservoir has already become a soggy marshland. The breach would drain the rest of the water and restore the Spring Creek stream channel.
In place of the dam will be large boulders through which the water will flow before heading into the stream channel. The dam will be breached near an existing deck on the eastern side of the reservoir.
The reservoir has not been used as a source of the city's drinking water for almost 40 years, but with a wooden deck and trails, it was maintained as a watery recreation area. Last year, the state engineer's office rated the reservoir unsatisfactory and advised it be drained to a safer level. Problems with the dam included excessive seepage at the foot of the dam and an inadequate spillway. As it was, the engineers were worried a spring runoff or storm-caused flood could cause a dangerous overflow at the lower reservoir.
After receiving word that the dam was becoming a potential hazard, the parks department drained it to the state engineer's specifications. It would have cost the city almost $250,000 to repair the damaged dam, without even dredging the accumulated silt from the reservoir. With that in mind, the parks department pushed for the construction of a park. The city offered $50,000 out of the 2000 budget to breach the dam and begin to create the park. The final cost will depend on how high the bids come in.
"Budget-wise, there really were no alternatives," said Larry Wheeler, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission.
The parks department plans to seed the ground once it dries up enough and feed a pond from a stream connected to the upper reservoir. The recreational area will contain a number of trails. The rest of the area will be left to nature's bidding. Wilson thinks the area will revert to a wetland.
Wilson met with Civil Design Consultants, a civil engineering company out of Steamboat, last week to draw up the plan for the proposed park. By the end of this week, the parks department will begin running advertisements for bids on the project. The department will reward the contract to the most successful bidder on Oct. 13. Wilson hopes the breach project will proceed by the third week in October, though the park itself may not be completed for a number of years. There is no money in the 2001 budget for the park.
To reach Avi Salzman call 871-4203 or e-mail email@example.com