The April 19, 2016 announcement below is an update to our October 8, 2015 Press Release:

Normal ops to resume at Wolford dam
April 19, 2016

The Colorado River District has found that there is no compelling safety reason to proceed with remediation of Ritschard Dam at Wolford Mountain Reservoir in Grand County, now or in the foreseeable future.

This conclusion comes after exhaustive study of the settlement and a failure-risk assessment of the rock-fill, clay-core dam put into service in 1995. The River District’s consulting engineers and a separate Consultant Review Board it commissioned, together with the State of Colorado Dam Safety Branch, have concluded that the dam remains safe.

The River District will fill the reservoir this spring, reversing a two-year self-imposed restriction limiting the reservoir to within 10 feet of full as a cautionary measure.

These developments come after six years and more than $1.5 million worth of study and the installation of sophisticated instrumentation to analyze the dam’s settlement. This study and monitoring was instigated by observations of settlement, a normal expectation in such a dam, beyond what designers had contemplated.

Throughout this time, the Dam Safety Branch of the Colorado Division of Water Resources has been thoroughly kept up to date on all investigations. The River District will continue its intensive monitoring of the dam and continued collaboration with state dam safety officials and other interested parties. The River District has been transparent and public with its study of the dam and had told the public that repairs could range from minimal to in excess of $30 million, but the overriding intent was that the settlement would be dealt with in a safe, prudent and responsible manner.

A breakthrough in understanding the risks associated with the on-going settlement came earlier this year when the River District conducted a formal Risk Analysis Workshop.

The conclusion was that the risk of a settlement-related dam failure was far lower than the estimated one-in-one-million risk of dam failure from a catastrophic flood that would overtop the dam. A one-in-one-million risk of failure represents extreme caution and a normally accepted assessment of risk common to all modern dams. The risk of a settlement-related dam failure was estimated at one-in-one-hundred-million, far lower than the flood risk.

Going forward, the River District will continue to work with the Dam Safety Branch, our engineering firm AECOM and the Consultant Review Board. Plans are to install more instrumentation and to establish a long-term monitoring plan, while preparing for the possibility that remediation may be necessary at a future point in time.

Multi-million dollar rehab project planned for Ritschard Dam

October 8, 2015
A massive rehabilitation project is being planned for Ritschard Dam, the earthen dam that holds back water from Wolford Mountain Reservoir, just north of Kremmling. Jim Pokrandt, communications specialist for the Colorado River Water Conservation District, owners of Ritschard Dam, confirmed the project Tuesday. Pokrandt said the project is still in the design analysis stage and no official decisions have been made yet regarding specifics but said, “We are on a pathway to rehab the dam. Right now we are in the design analysis stage. We don’t have a final design on what the work will look like.”

Renovation Solutions for Ritschard Dam at Wolford Mountain Reservoir to be Developed This Year to Address Materials Settlement

February 18, 2015
The Colorado River District owns and operates the Ritschard Dam that forms Wolford Mountain Reservoir near Kremmling in Grand County, Colorado. It is a clay-core, rock-fill dam that has experienced settling beyond the amounts normally expected by engineers for a dam of this type. The dam is safe and will continue to be safe in the future, according to the District’s engineering staff.

Colorado River District Awarded $8 Million Federal Grant for Lower Gunnison River Basin 

January 15, 2015
The Lower Gunnison River Basin is the target for $8 million in new grant funding to improve irrigation practices, water quality, agricultural productivity and environmental conditions. The Colorado River District is the lead partner in the grant-funded project that includes a total of 31 partnering entities. Dave Kanzer, Senior Water Resources Engineer for the District, said the grant stems from the 2015 Farm Bill initiative called the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) that identified the Colorado River system as a “Critical Conservation Area,” one of eight in the country.

Colorado River and Southwestern Water Conservation Districts Discuss Drought

September 18, 2014
The two Water Conservation Districts that comprise the entire Colorado River basin in Colorado adopted implementation principles concerning how the current, extended drought conditions are addressed on the Colorado River’s storage system.

Colorado River District praises Governor’s Veto of SB023

June 6, 2014
The Colorado River District applauds Governor Hickenlooper’s decision on June 5 to veto Senate Bill 14-023. As noted in the Governor’s veto message, we are certain it was a close and difficult decision. The River District, along with many other parties, requested a veto.

Colorado River District & West Divide Water Conservancy District Approve Settlement in Crystal River Water Rights 

June 26, 2014
The Colorado River District yesterday joined the West Divide Water Conservancy District in approving a settlement ending litigation regarding water rights in the Crystal River. Both the River District and West Divide are pleased to avoid the costs of litigation as well as the inevitable animosity with their mutual constituents over protecting water rights for present and future use in the Crystal River valley.

Agreement Reached on Water Rights Call on Shoshone Hydro Plant

April 2, 2013
Two back-to-back, drought-plagued winters in Western Colorado have triggered an agreement to “relax” a senior water rights call on the Colorado River at the Shoshone Hydro Plant to allow water providers to store more water this spring, a move that benefits Denver Water and the West Slope.

River District to Decrease Reservoir Levels for Drought and Monitoring

August 22, 2012
The Colorado River District, which owns and operates Wolford Mountain Reservoir, will take advantage of this year’s drought and resulting low reservoir water levels to further monitor movement at Ritschard Dam. As with all earthen dams, Ritschard Dam was expected to settle over time. However, over its 16-year life, the dam has settled nearly two-feet, rather than the estimated one-foot. This year’s dry conditions require drawing the reservoir down lower than most years in order to meet contractual and environmental demands for the stored water.

Colorado River District Praises Colorado River Water Supply & Demand Study as a call to Action

December 12, 2012
The Colorado River District commends the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study released today to the public as a thorough and detailed call to action for Colorado River stakeholders to address a gap between human and environmental demands on the river system and the amount of water it produces annually.

Update to October 8, 2015 Press Release

Normal ops to resume at Wolford dam
April 19, 2016

The Colorado River District has found that there is no compelling safety reason to proceed with remediation of Ritschard Dam at Wolford Mountain Reservoir in Grand County, now or in the foreseeable future.

This conclusion comes after exhaustive study of the settlement and a failure-risk assessment of the rock-fill, clay-core dam put into service in 1995. The River District’s consulting engineers and a separate Consultant Review Board it commissioned, together with the State of Colorado Dam Safety Branch, have concluded that the dam remains safe.

The River District will fill the reservoir this spring, reversing a two-year self-imposed restriction limiting the reservoir to within 10 feet of full as a cautionary measure.

These developments come after six years and more than $1.5 million worth of study and the installation of sophisticated instrumentation to analyze the dam’s settlement. This study and monitoring was instigated by observations of settlement, a normal expectation in such a dam, beyond what designers had contemplated.

Throughout this time, the Dam Safety Branch of the Colorado Division of Water Resources has been thoroughly kept up to date on all investigations. The River District will continue its intensive monitoring of the dam and continued collaboration with state dam safety officials and other interested parties. The River District has been transparent and public with its study of the dam and had told the public that repairs could range from minimal to in excess of $30 million, but the overriding intent was that the settlement would be dealt with in a safe, prudent and responsible manner.

A breakthrough in understanding the risks associated with the on-going settlement came earlier this year when the River District conducted a formal Risk Analysis Workshop.

The conclusion was that the risk of a settlement-related dam failure was far lower than the estimated one-in-one-million risk of dam failure from a catastrophic flood that would overtop the dam. A one-in-one-million risk of failure represents extreme caution and a normally accepted assessment of risk common to all modern dams. The risk of a settlement-related dam failure was estimated at one-in-one-hundred-million, far lower than the flood risk.

Going forward, the River District will continue to work with the Dam Safety Branch, our engineering firm AECOM and the Consultant Review Board. Plans are to install more instrumentation and to establish a long-term monitoring plan, while preparing for the possibility that remediation may be necessary at a future point in time.

Multi-million dollar rehab project planned for Ritschard Dam

October 8, 2015
A massive rehabilitation project is being planned for Ritschard Dam, the earthen dam that holds back water from Wolford Mountain Reservoir, just north of Kremmling. Jim Pokrandt, communications specialist for the Colorado River Water Conservation District, owners of Ritschard Dam, confirmed the project Tuesday. Pokrandt said the project is still in the design analysis stage and no official decisions have been made yet regarding specifics but said, “We are on a pathway to rehab the dam. Right now we are in the design analysis stage. We don’t have a final design on what the work will look like.”

Renovation Solutions for Ritschard Dam at Wolford Mountain Reservoir to be Developed This Year to Address Materials Settlement

February 18, 2015
The Colorado River District owns and operates the Ritschard Dam that forms Wolford Mountain Reservoir near Kremmling in Grand County, Colorado. It is a clay-core, rock-fill dam that has experienced settling beyond the amounts normally expected by engineers for a dam of this type. The dam is safe and will continue to be safe in the future, according to the District’s engineering staff.

Colorado River District Awarded $8 Million Federal Grant for Lower Gunnison River Basin 

January 15, 2015
The Lower Gunnison River Basin is the target for $8 million in new grant funding to improve irrigation practices, water quality, agricultural productivity and environmental conditions. The Colorado River District is the lead partner in the grant-funded project that includes a total of 31 partnering entities. Dave Kanzer, Senior Water Resources Engineer for the District, said the grant stems from the 2015 Farm Bill initiative called the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) that identified the Colorado River system as a “Critical Conservation Area,” one of eight in the country.

Colorado River and Southwestern Water Conservation Districts Discuss Drought

September 18, 2014
The two Water Conservation Districts that comprise the entire Colorado River basin in Colorado adopted implementation principles concerning how the current, extended drought conditions are addressed on the Colorado River’s storage system.

Colorado River District praises Governor’s Veto of SB023

June 6, 2014
The Colorado River District applauds Governor Hickenlooper’s decision on June 5 to veto Senate Bill 14-023. As noted in the Governor’s veto message, we are certain it was a close and difficult decision. The River District, along with many other parties, requested a veto.

Colorado River District & West Divide Water Conservancy District Approve Settlement in Crystal River Water Rights 

June 26, 2014
The Colorado River District yesterday joined the West Divide Water Conservancy District in approving a settlement ending litigation regarding water rights in the Crystal River. Both the River District and West Divide are pleased to avoid the costs of litigation as well as the inevitable animosity with their mutual constituents over protecting water rights for present and future use in the Crystal River valley.

Agreement Reached on Water Rights Call on Shoshone Hydro Plant

April 2, 2013
Two back-to-back, drought-plagued winters in Western Colorado have triggered an agreement to “relax” a senior water rights call on the Colorado River at the Shoshone Hydro Plant to allow water providers to store more water this spring, a move that benefits Denver Water and the West Slope.

River District to Decrease Reservoir Levels for Drought and Monitoring

August 22, 2012
The Colorado River District, which owns and operates Wolford Mountain Reservoir, will take advantage of this year’s drought and resulting low reservoir water levels to further monitor movement at Ritschard Dam. As with all earthen dams, Ritschard Dam was expected to settle over time. However, over its 16-year life, the dam has settled nearly two-feet, rather than the estimated one-foot. This year’s dry conditions require drawing the reservoir down lower than most years in order to meet contractual and environmental demands for the stored water.

Colorado River District Praises Colorado River Water Supply & Demand Study as a call to Action

December 12, 2012
The Colorado River District commends the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study released today to the public as a thorough and detailed call to action for Colorado River stakeholders to address a gap between human and environmental demands on the river system and the amount of water it produces annually.

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