Town to remove Davey's Wave

The town of Pagosa Springs has a definitive plan for initial whitewater structures in the San Juan River.

Presented with two options for the plan in chambers during the Tuesday night town council meeting, the board elected to completely remove the so-called “Davey’s Wave” structure from the river.

With the removal of Davey’s Wave, the plan — Option B — calls for the installation of an upstream cross vane structure as well as a new whitewater feature to be installed in front of the Visitor’s Center. The new structure would have a net drop in water surface of 2 feet, while the cross vane structure, just upstream from the current location of Davey’s Wave, would have a net drop of 1 foot.

The other alternative presented to council — Option A — would have entailed the partial removal of Davey’s Wave, taking out the portion of the structure adjacent to the Springs Resort. A scaled-down version of the structure in front of the Visitor’s Center would be installed (with a 1 foot drop), while Davey’s Wave would have likely retained the current 2 foot drop enjoyed by boaters and tubers over the past several years.

“Both alternatives would satisfy the Army Corps of Engineers and the DOW (Colorado Department of Wildlife),” said Chris Phillips of Riverbend Engineering, lead contractor for the project, “Actually, with the fishing structures at the Sixth Street river bend, the DOW is quite anxious to see this happen.”

Several audience members spoke out unanimously in favor of Option A, although most were more concerned with just seeing the project go through. “I would like to express my concern because it’s taken some time to make this happen,” said local resident John Henry, “We have a great asset here, most towns would kill to have a San Juan River running through it.”

Pagosa area resident Anthony Doctor said, “Gary Lacey (previous contractor for the project) said Option A would be the best and that, even with the modifications, it would not substantially change it. Whatever we can do to get a good punch is the way we should go.”

Hearing audience input, council was nonetheless inclined to support the option that would ensure a sure thing, clearly favoring Option B.

“I’d rather we’d go with a guaranteed whitewater feature, then gamble with modifying one,” said council member Stan Holt, “Option B seems to be the safe bet.”

Holt’s statement was borne out by an assessment given by Phillips, who stated earlier that, with modifying the Davey’s Wave structure, “There is some chance it would compromise its functionality.”

Council member Darrel Cotton concurred, saying, “I’d just like to see the hassle gone. With Option B, we know we’re going to see a whitewater feature that works.”

After a motion by council member Shari Pierce to approve Option B, council unanimously approved the plan.

Phillips stated that permitting should not be an issue, as both plans have been met with preliminary approval by both the ACoE and DOW. Indeed, Phillips reported that he’d talked to all landowners and stakeholders involved and none appear willing to file objections.

Once permitting has been completed, construction should soon follow. Already, Davey Pitcher, president of Wolf Creek Ski Corporation, and Bob Hart, owner of Hart Construction, have committed to donating material, equipment and labor for the project. Phillips said that other local contractors have likewise promised to donate time and energy for construction of the project.

Plans submitted by Phillips in December broke the project into three phases, with the first phase — the complete removal of Davey’s Wave — completed by spring. Later in the spring will see the completion of Phase II, the installation of structures in the portion of the river in front of the Visitor’s Center. Phase III will entail digging through bedrock in the portion of the river upstream from the Hot Springs Boulevard bridge and fronting Town Park and construction will not begin until fall 2009.

jim@pagosasun.com