Yampa dammed for repair

Expert divers take on intake pipe project in Hayden

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Craig Willis, with St. Louis-based FAS-DAM Systems, works on installing a temporary dam Thursday in the Yampa River near Hayden.

— Long-awaited repairs to the Hayden water plant's intake pipe on the Yampa River began last week after several delays.

Before the damaged pipe can be replaced, expert divers must partially dam and drain the river. Repairs are estimated to take at least two weeks to complete.

The problem was first noticed at the plant in September 2006, when intake from the pipe dropped to 625 gallons per minute, down nearly half from its usual level of 1,000 gallons per minute, according to Plant Operator Scott Price.

Water supply in Hayden has not been affected, but the damage has created longer days and other problems for the plant. During the summer, the plant had to set up an air compressor to frequently blow silt out of the clogged intake.

"We could only run the plant as long as the intake pipe stayed clear," Price said.

Damming was originally scheduled for last December, but the river froze earlier than expected due to a cold snap, said Hayden Finance Director Lisa Dowling.

Work at the site caught a number of snags last week. The divers were originally scheduled to begin work Wednesday morning, but they experienced travel delays. The divers were halted Thursday when a hole was discovered in one of the diver's wetsuits. Work was expected to resume after divers acquired a replacement in Grand Junction on Friday.

Divers will construct a temporary dam structure using steel beams and cover it with a tarp, cutting off roughly half of the river's flow. Hydrologists were originally concerned with the reduced water flow, but approved the construction plans, Price said.

It will take two full days of work for divers to build the dam and for the water to be pumped out, and then the riverbed has to dry out completely before concrete can be poured.

Expert divers and coffer dam builders from Missouri-based Fas-Dam are working alongside Precision Excavating of Hayden for the repairs.

- To reach Melinda Dudley, call 871-4203

or e-mail mdudley@steamboatpilot.com

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