From The Farmington Daily Times (Hannah Grover):
No water will be pumped from the Animas River into Lake Nighthorse this year.
That is because the headgates at the dam southwest of Durango, Colorado, have to be destroyed and replaced, according to Animas-La Plata Project Operations, Maintenance and Repair Association General Manager Russ Howard.
Howard told the San Juan Water Commission on March 4 that the $6.5 million project is needed because the design was not appropriate for the location. This work is being done by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
He said work was also done prior to choosing to replace the gate. Howard said $1.5 million was spent “over the years trying to put a Band-Aid on something that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.”
When asked about the gate, Howard said the design, known as an Obermeyer, gate is not a bad design, but it was not appropriate for the Animas River.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spokeswoman Justyn Liff agreed with Howard that the design was a good design but was not compatible with the Animas River’s conditions. She said on another river it would have worked fine, but the bureau had not realized how muddy the Animas River is.
The amount of mud in the Animas River caused problems and filled the pipes with mud.
In addition to the $6.5 million replacement of the headgates, Liff said the the gate’s original construction, retrofits to keep them operational and engineering studies and design cost about $6.2 million.