Grand County seeks help to build new whitewater park
EAGLE — Grand County is asking Eagle County to chip in $340,000 to build a whitewater park at the Pumphouse boat ramp on the Colorado River below Gore Canyon.
Grand County representative Caroline Bradford presented the request to Eagle County commissioners Tuesday. Bradford also happens to be Eagle County’s representative on the Colorado River Basin Roundtable.
“We will put the request on our radar screens,” said Keith Montag, Eagle County manager.
The total cost of the project is $1.7 million. Grand County has already invested $600,000, or 35 percent of the cost. It’s asking Eagle County to cover 20 percent.
The term “whitewater park” generally refers to a riverbed that has been engineered to create waves and other features for recreation. Technically, a “park” could entail a natural riverbed. An engineered riverbed is a “recreational in-channel diversion” (RICD).
“The difference between a park and a RICD is that the RICD has a water right,” Bradford said.
She said that the proposed location of the park at Pumphouse is four miles north of the Eagle County line, but Eagle County’s stretch of the Colorado River below that point would benefit from the guaranteed flows of the junior water right.
“Grand County is not a big place — its population is about 14,000 — and it has a much smaller budget than Eagle County,” Bradford said. “Like Eagle County, they have prioritized their rivers and, with all the Front-Range diversion projects, they have been focused on these priorities for decades.”
She said Denver Water has not only agreed to not oppose the Pumphouse park, it is helping with the fund-raising.
She said there is strong support from the boating community, which has pledged a total of $25,000 so far. She presented evidence that approximately half of all private boaters who use the Colorado River in Grand County are from Eagle County.
Meanwhile, the Water Supply Reserve Account Grant Program is slated to cover 30 percent, or $500,000, of the project. Retail partnerships, private foundations and corporate grants are anticipated to contribute the rest.
“Permitting to build the RICD is under way right now,” Bradford said.
Eagle County commissioners said they will consider the $340,000 contribution, but it will be challenging since open space funds are not eligible for this type of project.
Montag said if the county contributes, the money would likely from the community grant program.