Help Secure Boat Passage on the Green River, Utah!

posted March 19, 2014
by Nathan Fey

article photo 5

Green River, Utah - The Green River/Tusher Diversion was constructed in the early 1900s and during the 2010/2011 flood events, flows in the Green River caused severe damage to the diversion structure, compromising its structural integrity.  Efforts to redesign and rebuild the dam and diversion are now underway, and paddlers have an opportunity to ensure that new boat passage is included in the fiinal project design. The NRCS has released the Draft EIS which outlines three design alternatives that are now open to public review and comment, Now, your comments are needed to ensure that the NRCS finds the "Passages Alternative" to be the Preferred Action under their NEPA review. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Public Comment Period is currently open until April 30, 2014.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service and Utah Dept. of Agriculture and Food have analyzed alternatives to maintain the existing functions of the diversion for water delivery to irrigation canals and upgrade the diversion structure to current design standards, as well as provide upstream and downstream fish passage and tracking, fish screening, enhanced sediment sluicing, and downstream recreational boat passage. The fish protection and passage components are proposed for inclusion in the project to meet Endangered Species Act requirements for listed fish species populations in the Green River.  The boat passage provision has been advanced by AW as a navigability requirement in the state of Utah.

Two Action Alternatives have been carried forward by NRCS and the project team to be analyzed in detailed study for this DEIS: the Replace In Place Alternative and the Replace In Place With Passages Alternative.  In accordance with NEPA, the No Action Alternative must also be analyzed.

Of the three, American Whitewater supports the "Replace in Place with Passages Alternative", and AW staff have worked directly with NRCS and local stakeholders to explore and advance solutions to the current threats to public safety and navigablity at the diversion structure. Additionally, AW and the NRCS have suggested that this alternative does not create additional cost or construction challenges to the project, and improves long-term socioeconomic and recreational benefits to the community.

Under the "Passages Alternative", a boat chute would be notched into the new structure, either in the center of the diversion, or next to the upstream fish ladder on river left, and new upstream warning signs will be installed directing paddlers to the boat chute. We are requesting the boat chute be located in the center of the structure, as a river-left notch would spit boaters onto the sediment bar downstream of the dam, created by Tusher Wash.  We have additional concerns with locating the boat chute on river left and adjacent to the concrete fish ladder and the complex of weirs and headgates that serve to meet the water rights on the eastern side of the Green River.

Locating the boat chute in the center of the channel, provides the most direct, quickest and safest run through the diversion.  The Project will also reduce the downstream slope of the new concrete structure so as to allow for safe boat passage at all passable flows, and to elimminate the "keeper hydraulic" that now exists below the dam. 

American Whitewater wants to recognize NRCS and McMillen Engineers for their efforts to include boat passage into the final project proposals. Public input into the scoping of this project was instrumental in consideration of new boat passage, as well as the outreach and expertise of AW staff and volunteers.  Now, public comments are needed to ensure that the NRCS finds the Passages Alternative to be the Preferred Action under their NEPA review. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) Public Comment Period is currently open until April 30, 2014.  NRCS will compile all comments received and complete the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the project. 

The Draft EIS is available to the right of this page.


Public Meeting
Date:     Thursday, April 10, 2014
Time     6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Location:  John Wesley Powell River History Museum
1765 East Main Street in Green River, Utah



Official comments should sent prior to the close on April 30, 2014 to: greenriver@mcmillen-llc.com or
 
Greg Allington
Project Manager/Biologist
McMillen, LLC
1401 Shoreline Drive, Suite 100 Boise, ID 83702
p 208.342.4214 x 318 | f 208.342.4216 | c 208.340.5721
greg.allington@mcmillen-llc.com | www.mcmillen-llc.com
 

Colorado Stewardship Director
Nathan Fey
1601 Longs Peak Ave.
Longmont, CO 80501
Phone: 303-859-8601


Regions

Associated Rivers

Associated Projects

  • Green River Diversion Structure
    The Green River Diversion Structure, upstream of Green River Utah, is being considered for rehabilitation or reconstruction under the NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection Program. AW is working to sec