In addition to its streambank stabilization and riparian restoration program, the RGHRP works with ditch companies to address concerns surrounding aging and inefficient diversion dams and headgate structures. The RGHRP has worked on two main projects; the Plaza Project, which was completed in the Spring of 2017, and the Five Ditches Project, which was completed in early 2020.
7 Ditch Companies
4 Diversion Dams
Phase 1 was administered by a partnership with the McDonald Ditch Company. The RGHRP worked with stakeholders to determine the primary issues in the area, identify remediation methods, and develop an implementation plan (The Plaza Plan) to improve the health and function of the Rio Grande in the Sevenmile Plaza area. The identified issues include streambank instability in the 2.8-mile project reach, a degraded wetland, and aging, hazardous, and inefficient diversion structures. The RGHRP raised $50,000 through the NRCS CPP, $200,000 through the NRCS CCPI program, and $295,000 from the Colorado Water Supply Reserve Account for Phase 2 of the Plaza Project, the first phase of implementation of the Plaza Plan.
In 2010, the RGHRP began working with the McDonald Ditch (McDD) Company to address concerns surrounding the aging and inefficient McDD diversion and headgates structures. The McDonald Ditch Implementation Project (Phase 2) includes the reclamation of a 2-acre wetland, stabilization of 2,000 feet of streambanks, and replacement of the McDD diversion dam and headgate with a new concrete diversion that allows for increased diversion efficiency and a headgate with automated gates. Construction on Phase 2 began December 2014 and the new concrete diversion dam and headgate were completed in Spring and Fall 2015. The new pipeline was completed in Spring 2016. The completed project resulted in improved diversion efficiency, reduced maintenance, and improved Rio Grande Compact administration.
Phase 3 of the Plaza Project addresses issues facing the aging and inefficient Prairie Ditch diversion and headgate. The objectives of Phase 3 are to: (1) Improve diversion efficiency and reduce maintenance by replacing the aging Prairie Ditch headgate, installing automated water gates, and replacing the Prairie Ditch diversion dam; (2) Enhance water quality by reducing erosion and sediment input; (3) Improve riparian condition by stabilizing up to 1,000 feet of streambanks in the project area; (4) Increase the capacity of the Rio Grande to transport sediment; (5) Improve aquatic and wildlife habitat; (6) Enhance local recreation by including fish and boat passage in the new diversion dam; (7) Promote public involvement in water improvement activities through public outreach and education. The diversion dam structure was completed in Fall/Winter 2015, and the headgate and trash rack were completed Spring 2016.
The Five Ditches Project included four main subprojects: the Centennial Ditch, the Rio Grande #2 Ditch, the Consolidated and Pace Ditches, and the San Luis Valley Canal. The completed project includes three improved diversion dams and four new headgates. Each of the project sites also included streambank restoration to improve riparian habitat and channel stability. The project was completed in early 2020. Visit the 5 Ditches project Page to learn more.
Born out of the Conejos River Stream Management Plan (SMP), the Conejos River Partnership Project has brought together the Conejos Water Conservancy District, Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Colorado Division of Water Resources, ditch companies, and private landowners to address challenges facing the Conejos River between Mogote and its confluence with the Rio Grande. This multi-phased project will meet agricultural, environmental, and water administration needs on the Conejos through the rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure, enhancement of aquatic habitat, and restoration of riparian and wetland habitats. Learn more about this project here.