For Immediate Release December 20, 2013
Holly Milne, Multi Media/Marketing Specialist, 303-774-4387, Holly.Milne@ci.longmont.co.us
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Longmont Reservoir Supplies Water to City of Longmont for First Time Since Flood
December 20, 2013 - When massive flooding occurred in Longmont this September, a lack of water might have seemed a bizarre concern; however, the flood nearly cut off all of the city’s water resources. Of five main sources for Longmont’s water, only one remained post-flood (Carter Lake Pipeline). It has since been a priority to get water supply from Longmont Reservoir restored. After months of hard work, the North Saint Vrain Pipeline is successfully flowing with water from the reservoir, which is essential to Longmont.
City officials focused on restoring the North Saint Vrain Pipeline as quickly as possible because it is a key source for Longmont’s winter water supply. The pipeline flows from Longmont Reservoir in the City of Longmont’s Button Rock Preserve, located just outside Lyons, Colo.
Widespread damages to the preserve and the water supply system located there were sustained during the flood. Massive amounts of boulders, rocks and debris ripped out roadway access and left Longmont Reservoir filled with debris to a height of two feet over the top of Longmont Dam. Further, sections of the North Saint Vrain Pipeline were torn apart and destroyed, and remaining segments were clogged with mud, limbs, and rock.
Before the City of Longmont could even begin repairs, though, access to Button Rock Preserve had to be restored. This access was no simple feat. First, the Colorado Department of Transportation, working with the National Guard, rebuilt destroyed sections of US Highway 36. With that access open in early November, the City of Longmont championed the effort to repair County Road 80, which leads to Button Rock Preserve. The City hired local, Longmont contractor, Scott Nix, and his company, Nixcavating, to rebuild the road. Through an inter-governmental agreement, the City and Boulder County will share costs of the project.
Two months after the flood, Nixcavating was able to begin the process of creating an emergency roadway through Button Rock Preserve. Access for construction crews and their machinery was an urgent priority, so the City pushed to have the road completed within 30 days. Working seven days a week for long, hard hours, Nixcavating was able to meet the goal, providing essential access to Longmont Reservoir and other parts of the water system operating in Button Rock Preserve. Scott Nix said, “I am a third-generation Longmont resident, so the work we’re doing is extremely close to my heart… we knew it would be hard, but we’re honored to be doing it."
In building the road, the City and Nixcavating developed a method of removing debris from Longmont Reservoir and recycling that material as road base. This not only helped reduce costs to build the emergency roadway, but also accomplished the need to recapture capacity in the reservoir.
As they removed debris, crews were able to access, repair and flush a bypass pipeline to bring water to undamaged sections of the North Saint Vrain Pipeline. The bypass pipeline was opened Monday, Dec. 16 and by Wednesday morning, crews were able to open the downstream portion of the North Saint Vrain Pipeline. By Thursday morning, water from the Longmont Reservoir had traveled along the bypass to the North Saint Vrain Pipeline, through the City’s water treatment facility, and, finally, into the homes of Longmont residents.
Ken Huson, Water Resources Administrator for the City of Longmont, said, “restoring our water supply from Longmont Reservoir is certainly a victory, but it’s still really only the first step in many more repairs to come at Button Rock.”
According to Huson, next steps are focused on preparing for spring runoff. Between now and spring, crews will work to ensure the emergency roadway is protected and safe from increased river flows. Work will also be done to remove debris from Ralph Price Reservoir, which could pose a threat to structures and areas downstream, including Longmont Dam.
Once spring preparations are complete, work will move to constructing a permanent roadway, repairing upstream sections of the North Saint Vrain Pipeline, and replacing visitor facilities like parking and trails that were destroyed. Huson said, “there is still an enormous amount of work ahead to restore things to a permanent fix… it’s likely the area will remain closed for quite some time.”
Longmont Mayor, Dennis Coombs, summed things up well by saying, “this is great example of Longmont’s dedication to overall flood recovery; many projects lie ahead, but today we can celebrate one more piece restored.”
Follow updates on Longmont’s flood recovery at ci.longmont.co.us/flood-info. You can also view a video demonstrating the damage at Button Rock Preserve on the City’s You Tube channel: http://youtu.be/83I1PMR9riE.