Crews finished long-awaited repairs to stop minor erosion at the city of Durango reservoir this spring, but the city is waiting for approval to top off the reservoir.
In 2014, city staff discovered a small erosion problem with the earthen dam when they found water discolored by dirt in a pipe, called a toe drain, designed to carry groundwater through the dam. Earthen dams are expected to leak, but not erode.
“That causes everybody concern,” Assistant Utilities Director Jarrod Biggs said. While it was a minor problem, it had to be addressed.
“Dam failure is something that can’t be tolerated,” he said.
The minor erosion did not interfere with water storage in the interim years, he said.
However, state officials have continued to point out the problem during the dam’s annual inspection, he said.
This spring, crews lined the toe drain with a new pipe and grouted it in place to stop the erosion, Biggs said.
The repairs to the dam were delayed, in part, because the city was waiting for the state to approve plans to fix the dam, he said.
“It took us longer than we really would have liked,” he said.
The city has spent about $80,000 of the $250,000 set aside for the project, Biggs said. Unspent funding will be reallocated for other projects, he said.
Three weeks ago, the city was cleared to partially fill the reservoir, but it is still 15 million gallons shy of its regular operating level, he said. The additional storage would allow the reservoir to serve the city for about a day and a half.
The reservoir, northeast of Hillcrest Golf Club, can hold about 90 million gallons of water at capacity, enough to serve the city for about 10 days during the summer, should the city have problems drawing water from the Florida and Animas rivers, Biggs said.
It is not clear when the city can expect a decision from the state about filling the reservoir to capacity.
“We have been asking the asking the question very strongly,” he said.