Adams County firm pulls off construction hat trick: Fiore & Sons picks up 3rd award for building the 70 Ranch Reservoir — United Water


Here’s the release from United Water (Lynn Bartels):

An Adams County company that built an earthen reservoir in Weld County as part of Colorado’s vital water conservation efforts on Friday collected its third major award for the project.

To build the reservoir, Fiore & Sons Inc., a Colorado civil construction company, moved more than 3 million cubic yards of dirt.

The Colorado Contractors Association presented the award to Fiore & Sons its annual H20 Awards banquet, which honors outstanding water projects in the state. Fiore won in the “dam/reservoir” category.

“It was an honor to be part of such a unique project,” said President Butch Fiore, whose grandfather founded the firm in 1959.

The 5,500 acre-foot 70 Ranch Reservoir stores water to support the ranch’s cattle and farming operations, and provides storage for local agricultural and municipal water providers. It’s located near Kersey above the South Platte River, and below the confluence of the St. Vrain and Cache La Poudre rivers.

The reservoir is owned by Weld Adams Water Development Authority and operated by United Water and Sanitation District.

President Bob Lembke said Colorado doesn’t have a water shortage problem but a water storage problem.

“There is plenty of water in Colorado,” he said. “We just have to capture and store it for those times and seasons when we need it.”

The porous soil in that region is susceptible to wind and rain erosion so the reservoir was lined with 7 million square feet of a reinforced synthetic liner. The wave-action protection near the top of the design was unique, and involved a variety of products and employed several techniques on the slope.

Fiore & Sons’ diligence and innovation in building the 70 Ranch Reservoir included the efforts of 30 workers hand pulling weeds around the top of the dam wall because the use of herbicides on a water project would be unacceptable.

In its contest application, Fiore & Sons noted that protecting and preserving water quality was a top priority.

“A state construction dewatering permit required water volume be tracked and samples routinely obtained and tested at Colorado Analytical Labs for water quality,” the firm stated.

Over 115 water tests and 55 site inspections were completed. In addition, Fiore & Sons implemented a detailed erosion and sediment control plan.

“With a project of that size and magnitude, there are some really big lessons that are learned in the process and will really help us when we get the opportunity to build another dam,” Fiore said.

At the groundbreaking ceremony for the 70 Ranch Reservoir in 2019, state Treasurer Dave Young of Greeley and other elected officials praised the “visionary project.”

The project manager for United Water was Drew Damiano, for Fiore & Sons, Jim LaTerra. Fiore & Sons subcontracted with Civil Resources to provide engineering for the project.

Fiore & Sons received two other awards for the construction of the 70 Ranch Reservoir:

The National Utility Contractors Association, which recognizes “challenging, innovative, or unique projects completed with excellent results.” Fiore & Sons won the award in the water category at NUCA’s conference in Arizona last month.

The Associated General Contractors, which recognized Fiore for “Meeting the Challenge of a Difficult Job.” Fiore received the award in Denver last November.

For more information, contact

Lynn Bartels, 303-748-4502 or

Fiore & Sons Inc., an Adams County firm, picked up its third award for its construction of an enormous earthen reservoir near Kersey that contains 7 million square feet of a reinforced synthetic liner. From left to right, engineer Andy Rodriguez with Civil Resources, project manager Drew Damiano with United Water and Sanitation District, project manager Jim LaTerra of Fiore & Sons and Fiore & Sons president Butch Fiore. Photo credit: United Water

Pitkin County moves ahead with $1 million river project — @AspenJournalism

The Robinson Diversion, located just upstream from the boat ramp on Willits Lane has long presented a hazard for boaters on the Roaring Fork River. Pitkin County Healthy Rivers has secured roughly $256,000 in grant money to permanently fix the area. Photo credit: Heather Sackett/Aspen Journalism

From Aspen Journalism (Heather Sackett):

Pitkin County’s Healthy Rivers board is moving ahead with a nearly $1 million project to fix a problem spot on the Roaring Fork River between old town Basalt and Willits.

For the past few years, the board has been steadily accumulating grant money to fix the Robinson Diversion, an area known to boaters as Anderson Falls. The diversion is a line of rocks across the river, designed to help water flow into a channel on river right and into the headgate of the Robinson Ditch.

The spot, just upstream of the small boat ramp on Willits Lane near the FedEx outlet, has long presented a tricky obstacle to boaters, especially at low water.

And although repairs last April by the ditch company created a much-improved boat channel, the area remains vulnerable to winter ice flows and spring runoff, which could rearrange the rocks. Pitkin County is hoping to fund a more permanent fix.

The headgate for the Robinson Diversion is located on river right, just upstream from the boat ramp on Willits Lane on the Roaring Fork River. The Pitkin County Healthy Rivers Board is moving forward on a nearly $1 million project to fix the Robinson Diversion structure. Photo credit: Heather Sackett/Aspen Journalism

Option A

Last month, Healthy Rivers board members informally decided to move forward with restoration project “option A” with an estimated cost of $935,000.

The work, by Carbondale-based River Restoration, would include creating two smaller drops in the river, instead of one large drop, which would still allow water to reach the Robinson Ditch’s headgate. The project also would make some improvements to the diversion structure and result in better fish habitat.

River Restoration also presented Healthy Rivers with an “option B,” which would modify the existing rocks and extend the drop downstream to make for a more mellow ride in a raft, ducky or kayak. That option would cost roughly $586,000 but would not include fish-habitat work or improvements to the diversion headgate.

Board members decided to stick with the more complete “option A.”

“We might be wasting money if we don’t go big on this project,” said Healthy Rivers board member Lisa Tasker. “Going big means finding a solution to the Robinson Ditch rearranging the river bed year after year. One of the biggest goals is to have less equipment get into the river.”

Pitkin County commissioners have to approve expenditures from the Healthy Rivers board, which is a recommending body.

Blazing Adventures runs commercial river trips from Snowmass Canyon to just below the Robinson Diversion structure, usually starting in July as spring runoff fades. Owner Vince Nichols said the boat chute last year was a great improvement, but he would welcome a more permanent fix.

“Our main takeaway would be safety and having a boatable passage,” he said.

It’s unclear yet whether the Robinson Ditch Co., which owns and operates the structure and headgate, will contribute monetarily to the project, but manager Bill Reynolds said he is in support of fixing the structure.

“I welcome anything that helps all the boaters, fisherman, all the users on the river,” he said. “And if the ditch company can gain a better structure out there, that will help everybody. It’s a win-win.”

The headgate for the Robinson Diversion is located on river right, just upstream from the boat ramp on Willits Lane on the Roaring Fork River. The Pitkin County Healthy Rivers Board is moving forward on a nearly $1 million project to fix the Robinson Diversion structure. Photo credit: Heather Sackett/Aspen Journalism

Rising costs

So far, Healthy Rivers has amassed $256,216 in grant money for the project: a $171,216 Colorado Water Plan grant, a $45,000 Water Supply Reserve Fund grant — both are state funds from the Colorado Water Conservation Board — and a $40,000 Fishing Is Fun grant from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

These are matching grants, with the county currently committed to contributing at least roughly $246,000 toward the project.

According to Lisa MacDonald, a paralegal in the county attorney’s office, Healthy Rivers has no other grants in the works for the project, but it continues to look for more opportunities and funding. The project is still short of funding by about $430,000, and as time goes on, project costs continue to rise.

The price tag on the project in 2017 was $800,000. By this year, it had increased to $935,000.

“(The project) has a large footprint and we have to move the river during construction,” said Quinn Donnelly of River Restoration. “There are so few contractors that do the work, and it’s involved. There is risk involved.”

To make up the funding gap, MacDonald said the county could seek contributions from Eagle County, the town of Basalt, the ditch company and grants from Great Outdoors Colorado.

“The board does need to talk about exactly where the rest of that funding will come from,” Tasker said. “We are moving forward and will have discussions about how to cover what our grants do not.”

Aspen Journalism collaborates with The Aspen Times and other Swift Communications newspapers on coverage of water and rivers. This story ran in the March 8 edition of The Aspen Times.

#Snowpack news: Significant variation between the northern and southern mountains in #Colorado

Liza Mitchell, education and outreach coordinator with the Roaring Fork Conservancy, left, and a participant in the Water Education Colorado SNOTEL workshop measure the snow-water equivalent of different layers of the snowpack. The liquid content of snow from this site measured roughly 21 percent. (March 2018)

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Colorado’s mountain snow is measuring slightly higher than normal for this time of year, a vulnerable moment for cities and food growers ahead of spring, boosting confidence that water for crops, cattle and a growing population will be adequate.

Federal survey data showed the statewide snowpack at 106% of the norm between 1981 and 2010, but with significant variation between northern and southern mountains — a trend over the past decade.

And forecasters anticipated that dry soil from last year’s warm arid fall likely will reduce water in streams and rivers once snow melts. Much depends on snowfall this month, and March often brings heavy snow.

Southwestern Colorado faced drier conditions with snowpack between 86% and 94 % of the norm, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Colorado Snow Survey found. Snow in the South Platte River Basin (124%), Upper Colorado River Basin (114%) and Arkansas River Basin (109%) — the main water sources for Denver, Colorado Springs and northern Front Range cities — promised reasonably sufficient water…

Snow survey supervisor Brian Domonkos said Colorado was in “a good spot” overall, assuming more precipitation in the right places over the next few weeks.

The amount of water in rivers and streams “is going to be better in the northeast, and not as good in the southwest,” Domonkos said…

Denver’s reservoirs were 85% full, higher than the normal 80% at this time of year. Utility officials’ goal: Fill the reservoirs to 100% on July 1 to ensure water availability after snow on mountains melts and evaporates.

2020 Monte Vista Crane Festival

We had a great time hanging out with the Sandhill cranes in the San Luis Valley over the weekend to celebrate the 48th anniversary of my 21st birthday. The folks at the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge have created habitat for the the crane migration — shallow water features and barley fields. The idea is to make sure that the cranes get a good feed at the start of their migration so that the “Rocky Mountain population” arrives in their breeding areas (Greater Yellowstone) in good shape.

Here’s the Wikipedia page for Sandhill cranes

Sandhill Cranes