Gunnison River Hartland Dam: Delta, CO
WIN-WIN-WIN FOR FISH, BOATERS AND PUBLIC SAFETY
This project involved the design of major environmental and recreational improvements to a dam near Delta, Colorado that was built in 1881 to divert river water to an irrigation canal. The owners sought to upgrade the six foot-high facility, re-establish upstream and downstream movement of Colorado native endangered fish and allow boaters to pass through instead of requiring them to get out and carry around (portage) this safety hazard.
Half of the 100 yard long dam was removed and replaced with three separate but interconnected river channels. The channel nearest the main dam embankment is a “confined boulder” fishway which allows fish to pass during a variety of conditions. The middle channel allows boat passage, and the third channel’s “multi-slot baffled” fishway is designed to pass weak-swimming species. The facility promotes recovery of the native fish by extending their upstream range by 15 miles, and offers reliable quality whitewater for kayaks, canoes and rafts. The Hartland Dam site is the first documented built fish passage facility for slow-swimming species like the endangered species native to the Gunnison that integrates recreation via a boat passage channel.
The remaining structure was replaced with a buttress-type sloping grouted boulder drop structure embankment, and incorporates the original gate system to divert water to the irrigation canal.
Everyone is happy with this project…It’s important to remember that the project solved a major safety hazard and has improved the structure that the irrigators can depend upon with confidence, in addition to helping fish. I feel we benefited a great deal from the partnerships created by this project, and look forward to having another opportunity to work with Ben and the McLaughlin team in the future
- Scott Roth, National Fish Passage Program, National Fish Habitat Partnership Program, US Fish and Wildlife Service Region 6
This design met US Fish and Wildlife Service criteria necessary to withstand 100-year flood events with a low level of debris accumulation. The project involved extensive coordination with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Bureau of Reclamation, State of Colorado, Delta County, and other agencies.
Services Included: 2D analytical hydraulic modeling; complex evaluations of hydraulic profiles for three parallel but interconnected channels; and preliminary and final design.
The team received the 2013 American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Colorado) Engineering Excellence Award.
“It is a project (100 yards across) larger than most we deal with, so we are also glad to have been able to complete it,” notes Scott Roth, biologist for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. “The McLaughlin team had a lot to do with the success: I always felt that Ben (Nielsen) had an open door to discuss issues, and appreciate that. Contributing to our effort to connect species we know exists above and below the dam – flannel mouth sucker, bluehead sucker and round tail chub – is very important. These populations will be able to maintain a level genetic diversity that helps them withstand changes in their environment,” added Roth.