From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):
As the Animas River approaches peak flow, concerns are being raised that the city of Durango created a hazard when it added two new rapids to the Whitewater Park, resulting in many rafting companies choosing to bypass the park for safety reasons.
“It’s an unnatural hazard at the entry of the park, and it creates a rafting experience we’re not selling to our guests,” said Alex Mickel, owner of Mild to Wild Rafting & Jeep Tours. “It’s just been unfortunate.”
Since the 1980s, the city has made tweaks to the Whitewater Park, which flows alongside Santa Rita Park.
But in summer 2016, the city spent $1 million to create two new features just above the park with the sole purpose of diverting more water into the city’s water intake for municipal use.
It’s these new features that are drawing criticism and concern as the Animas River rises to higher-than-normal flows for the first time since the ledges were built. As of Friday, the river had usurped 6,000 cubic feet per second (the Animas usually peaks at around 4,700 cfs).
“They’re manmade nightmares,” said James Wilkes, co-owner of Mountain Waters Rafting. “They’re just not natural, and it’s very difficult for a raft to pass through it.”