Pulling the plug a serious offense | VailDaily.com

Pulling the plug a serious offense

Ryan Graff

RIFLE ” A vandal didn’t do serious damage after pulling the plug to Harvey Gap reservoir last month, but the Garfield County sheriff is taking a hard-line approach with the incident.

“We’re kind of treating it as eco-terrorism,” said Sheriff Lou Vallario, because the vandal left the graffiti message “Save the Gap.”

The vandal released about 50 acre-feet of water. The only reported damage was to irrigation ditches, but the potential for injury or agricultural loss was “huge,” said Vallario. The sheriff’s office has notified the FBI.

After Sept. 11, Garfield County, along with other governments across the country, identified potential terrorist targets.

The Harvey Gap vandal cut through chains to open the reservoir’s release valve about 11 p.m., Jan. 23, and between 60 cubic feet per second and 70 cubic feet per second of water flowed until about 6 a.m. the next morning, said Scott Dodero, manager of the Silt Water Conservancy District, which controls Harvey Gap.

The damage to farm and ranch water supplies was “minimal,” Dodero said. Harvey Gap’s capacity is 5,800 acre-feet of water, and about a day’s worth of water was lost, he said.

The Silt Water Conservancy District and the Farmer’s Irrigation Co., which owns the reservoir, are offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of responsible parties.

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