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AW to rehabiliate low-head dam on Dolores River - Colorado

Posted: 02/06/2017
By: Nathan Fey
Gateway, Colorado - American Whitewater and our partners have begun a multi-phase project to reconstruct the Wines Ditch No. 1 Diversion Structure located on the Dolores River near Gateway, Colorado.  The project will address multiple agricultural, environmental, and recreational water interests, including water delivery improvement, sensitive species enhancement and protection, channel stabilization, riparian improvement, and improved public safety and paddling opportunities.  
The Wines Ditch No. 1 Diversion Structure, located approximately 3.5 miles downstream from the put-in at the town of Gateway, does not allow for boat passage, forcing boaters floating the Dolores River from Gateway to portage around the structure at most water levels. The planning project is looking into redevelopment options that will allow for regular boat passage, and access to the 32 mile stretch of the Dolores River from the town of Gateway to Dewey Bridge at the confluence with the Colorado River. This segment of the Dolores River, takes paddlers through the Gateway Canyon Recreation Area and into several proposed wilderness areas in Utah. 
Currently, the Wines Ditch No. 1 diversion structure requires substantial maintenance to provide full delivery of a water right, does not allow for regular boat passage, and may create stream bank erosion in a highly sensitive reach of the Dolores River. In its current condition, the diversion structure is only passable by rafts during high water events, when the diversion structure is typically breached. Improvements to the structure will reduce the non-navigability of the structure. In addition, during high water events, the diversion structure is typically breached and no longer acts as a fish barrier, thus increasing the potential for introgression and hybridization of sensitive native upstream species in the San Miguel and Dolores Rivers.
American Whitewater, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Project engineers are evaluating wth use of a “Boat Chute”, or whitewater feature, as a velocity barrier for non-native fish.  This opportunity will serve as a milestone in the “fish vs. boats” debate, and will improve public safety while reducing the upstream migration of predatory and invasive fish species. 
We are working with local property owners, BLM, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and The Nature Conservancy, with funds provided by the State of Colorado Water Supply Reserve Account, on preliminary design for construction of an improved diversion structure.  Anticipated benefits of the project include:
1. Allowing for the full delivery of a pre-Compact water right.

2. Improving the Wines Ditch No. 1 capacity of for effective conveyance of the diverted water.

3. Enabling regular boat passage.

4. Enhancing riparian habitat.

5. Stabilizing the channel.

6. Implementing a fish barrier to protect and enhance upstream sensitive fish species from introgression and hybridization of downstream nonnative species. 

The Project is supported by many interests, including the BLM Grand Junction Field Office which has stated the project will meet multiple management objectives including “improving recreational opportunities by modifying a portion of the structure that creates a barrier for raft passage”. 
American Whitewater is committed to supporting the Project with technical expertise, and input from our broader membership, to compliment funding from Colorado Water Conservation Board Water Supply Reserve Account.  The first phase of this multi-phase project started last month. Phase 1 includes scoping, alternatives analysis, and the development of a preliminary design. Phase 2 will include the final design, permitting, contractor selection, and construction. Stay tuned for updates and opportunities to support this effort.
Colorado Stewardship Director

Nathan Fey

1601 Longs Peak Ave.

Longmont, CO 80501

Phone: 303-859-8601
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Dolores River (CO)

American Whitewater is working to conserve and restore a dynamic, healthy Dolores River by leveraging recreational water needs to enhance and support in-stream flows.

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