U.S. awards $17.6 million contract for Animas-La Plata conduit

The Bureau of Reclamation awarded a $17.6 million contract to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s Weeminuche Construction Authority to complete construction of the Ridges Basin inlet conduit.

The conduit, a principal feature of the Animas-La Plata project, will carry water from a pumping plant to Lake Nighthorse, which will impound 120,000 acre-feet and include an inactive pool for recreation, fisheries, and water quality.

BuRec Commissioner Robert Johnson announced the inlet conduit contract award Dec. 4, saying Animas-La Plata is about 44 percent complete. In the past three years, he said, tremendous progress has been made on the dam embankment, outlet works, and pumping plant.

Primary work of the inlet conduit contract includes construction of a buried steel pipeline that will transport water 2.1 miles from the pumping plant to the reservoir. WCA, of Towaoc, Colo., also will build vents and stilling structures that will regulate the flow of the water being pumped from the Animas River to the reservoir. BuRec said work on the conduit should be completed in 2009.

BuRec previously awarded an $84.9 million contract to WCA for construction on Ridges Basin Dam, the single biggest feature of the Animas-La Plata Project. The dam will store water from the Animas River in Lake Nighthorse for use in the Four Corners area of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.

Animas-La Plata is being built to fulfill the water rights settlement of the two Indian tribes that live in Colorado — the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. The tribes have water rights dating back to 1868. Fulfillment of the settlement obligations, including completion of the Animas-La Plata project, will provide non-Indian water users in southwest Colorado certainty of the continued use of water, BuRec said.

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