Camp Hale ice dam breached |

Camp Hale ice dam breached

Cliff Thompson

“Water’s flowing and everything’s going well,” said Larry Sanford, field operations manager for The Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.

The small ice dam was creating large problems, as 4 cubic feet per second of water being released from the reservoir was earmarked for the Shoshone Hydroelectric Power Plant in Glenwood Canyon, which holds the senior water right on the Colorado River. If the blockage was allowed to continue, it could have forced curtailment of diversions of river water used by domestic water plants on the Eagle River upstream of the Colorado River.

A brouhaha of sorts had erupted over who had caused the ice dam – and who should fix it. Owners of the reservoir -Vail Resorts, Colorado River Conservation District, the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority and the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District – claimed a snowmobile touring company, Nova Guides, had compacted the snow over the creek, causing the water to back up. They asked the district engineer with the state Division of Water Resources to order the blockage removed.

The engineer, Alan Martellaro, wasn’t convinced, however, telling the owners to work on their own to resolve the issue suggesting the releases of water had created the ice dam. So the water and sanitation district rented a snowcat and used its plow blade to clear the ice-bound stream channel and make a gradual, groomed transition across the stream for Nova Guides, Sanford said.

The dam was originally believed to have been on private property, but it was later determined to be on U.S. Forest Service land.

“We’ll be going out with engineers this summer and coming up with a solution to prevent problems next winter,” said Holy Cross District Ranger Cal Wettstein.

The reservoir’s owners have a debt of nearly 400 acre-feet of water to holders of senior water rights. That water flows down the East Fork of the Eagle River into the Colorado.

An acre-foot in enough water to cover a football field approximately a foot deep. Eagle Park currently is holding nearly 1,600 acre-feet, about 80 percent of its capacity.

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555 ext 450 or

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