Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Wood River Wave project hits a snag

Irrigation canal district objects to use of head gate as bridge


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

    A plan to transform a concrete dam on the Big Wood River in Bellevue into a recreational asset may need to change in order to satisfy the No. 45 Irrigation District, which operates a head gate nearby.
    The dam diverts water from the main channel on the west side of the Big Wood River into the head gate, which is adjusted throughout the year to control water flows that irrigate thousands of acres of farmland south of Bellevue.
    Resident Craig Wolfrom Monday presented the Bellevue City Council with a $7,000 conceptual plan for the “Wood River Wave,” an artificial wave feature that he said would be popular with kayakers.
     The plan describes a $720,000 rebuild of the dam that would utilize adjustable underwater air bags to create waves for boaters, and a picnicking area and parking area.
    The plan also includes the use of the No. 45 Irrigation District’s head gate as a pedestrian bridge across the irrigation canal, which raised concerns with Pepin Corso-Harris, a water user on the irrigation district canal system.
    Corso-Harris wrote a letter to the Bellevue City Council stating that despite having numerous meetings with Wolfrom about the proposed wave structure, most of her concerns had not been addressed in the plan.
    Corso-Harris wrote that the 8-foot head gate “bridge” was not safe for pedestrians and should not be used as a bridge. The head gate and the dam are on city property. Therefore, the city and the irrigation district share responsibility for what happens there, she said.
    “The more people there are at the head gate, the more liability there will be for us,” she wrote.
    Mike Harris, who is also an irrigation district user, mentioned other concerns at the Monday meeting, including the build-up of gravel that he said would be caused by the submerged air bags.
    “Removing that gravel could cost tens of thousands of dollars,” Harris said.
    Wolfram said he was eager to gather more questions from the City Council and other parties before coming back with answers.
    The plan for the wave structure, which was written by engineer Scott Shipley of H2O Design in Lyons, Colo., states that the wave structure would have to be permitted by federal, state and local authorities before moving forward. Shipley wrote that design and permitting could take two years, with the construction phase lasting three months.
    The low water flows in Bellevue would allow for only one “drop” in the wave feature, whereas a similar plan for Ketchum would allow for seven drops, due to higher water flows some 13 miles north, Wolfram said.



    In other Bellevue news:

  • The Bellevue City Council agreed to sign the Southern Wood River Valley Fire Service Automatic Aid Agreement.
  • Amberle Behr was awarded Fire Fighter of the Year, and James Hoover was commended for five years of service to the Bellevue Fire Department.

 




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