Wetlands mitigation project to begin at Stevens Reservoir

At its regular monthly meeting Tuesday night, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors approved a bid for wetlands mitigation at the newly-enlarged Stevens Reservoir.

The impoundment is located at the end of Paws Court (off Stevens Lake Road) near the old Humane Society site, and the wetlands project constitutes the final phase of a 2008 augmentation that dramatically increased reservoir capacity to 1,844 acre feet of raw water storage. Before expansion, Stevens held a maximum 624 acre feet.

Engineers completed wetlands project plans and specifications March 23, and issued them to 14 contractors and two plan rooms. Bidding opened April 9, with six responsive bidders, including Hart Construction and Trigon General Contractors & Construction Managers, Inc., both of Pagosa Springs. Hart submitted a low bid of $394,280.84, and was awarded the contract Tuesday.

The first of a two-step process is scheduled to begin June 1. Weather permitting, it will involve site preparation, excavation and placement of several inches of wetland soils; the installation of monitoring wells, depth gages and erosion control measures; road maintenance and traffic control. PAWSD officials believe workers will complete the work in 120 calendar days.

Again, depending on weather, the reservoir will be filled to capacity when district water rights are in priority, later this year.

To accommodate completion of the second and final step, district managers will reduce the reservoir level by approximately six feet, sometime around May 2010. That will allow planting of shrubbery, wet meadow and emergent plants, before refilling the impoundment late next year, when district rights are again in priority.

PAWSD Project Manager Gregg Mayo has said the reservoir, when refilled to capacity, will be approximately 28 feet deep at the dam. The reservoir is fed, in large part, by the Dutton Ditch Pipeline — another PAWSD project completed in late 2005.

Last year, Weminuche Construction Authority of Towaoc, Colo., served as general contractor for the overall reservoir expansion.

chuck@pagosasun.com