RIDGWAY – The Town of Ridgway has postponed breaking ground on its $2.4 million Lake Otonowanda Rehabilitation Project until next year.
Town officials had hoped to get started on Phase 1 (the tunnel restoration phase) of the project this fall, but received only one response to a Request for Proposals issued in September.
Hoping to attract more bidders, they have decided to broaden the scope of the contract to encompass both the tunnel restoration phase and lake excavation phase in a single package, and will send the entire project out to bid in early 2014.
“We will focus on completing the design this fall, and then construction is planned to begin and end in 2014,” said Ridgway Town Manager Jen Coates.
Located in Ouray County, about three miles south of Ridgway off of County Road 5, Lake O has been the town’s primary municipal water source for nearly 100 years. The manmade lake is filled with water diverted into a natural basin via the Ridgway Ditch.
The Lake Otonowanda Rehabilitation Project will allow the town to exercise its full decreed storage right there by improving the lake’s capacity from 100 to 600 acre feet, while restoring historic tunnel outlet works, which collapsed decades ago, to allow water to flow from the lake to town without having to be pumped.
The extra storage capacity will ensure that there is enough water to go around in Ridgway for most anticipated situations even during drought years, accommodating growth well into the future.
When the project is complete, the town will be able to supply water to the community for a minimum four-month period in a drought event, compared to its current storage capacity of only 10‐14 days.
At the Ridgway Town Council meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 9 (after this paper went to press), council was set to approve a $600,000 grant agreement with the State of Colorado Department of Local Affairs to help pay for the project. In September, council finalized a $1.2 million grant/loan package with the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) which will also contribute significantly toward financing the project.
Representatives from the CWCB’s Finance & Administration Section visited Lake O on Thursday, Sept. 26, and were impressed with the scope and spirit of the project.
“We get some requests for funding that don’t fit our parameters, but a project like Lake O fits us to a T,” said Kirk Russell, the CWCB finance and administration officer. “Storage facilities are exactly what we like to do.”
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