Bureau of Reclamation Banner
Upper Colorado Region
Salt Lake City, Utah
Media Contact:
Ken Beck
970-385-6558

Released On: May 09, 2003

Construction Of The Durango Pumping Plant Set To Begin
(DURANGO, CO) - The Bureau of Reclamation announced today that general construction activities for the Durango Pumping Plant (DPP) facility - an integral component of the Animas-La Plata Project – are underway. “We’re extremely excited about the kickoff of construction activities in support of the Durango Pumping Plant,” said Patrick Schumacher, Project Manager with the Bureau of Reclamation’s Western Colorado Area Office. “For the past several weeks, WCA has been installing fencing and other safeguards to prepare the pumping plant site for the upcoming construction activities.

Once completed, stripping of the topsoil and excavation of the bedrock will begin. Excavation of the bedrock will require blasting to fracture the rock. Assuming no unforeseen circumstances are encountered, we anticipate that blasting operations will begin Tuesday, May 13.”

The Animas-La Plata Project achieves the purposes of the 1988 Colorado Ute Indian Water Rights Settlement Act and the Colorado Ute Settlement Act Amendment of 2000. The project will provide the Southern Ute Indian and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes with a reliable water supply for their future needs, without taking scarce water resources away from existing water users in southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico.

Weeminuche Construction Authority (WCA), a commercial construction enterprise owned and operated by the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, has been selected to build the project. On April 15, 2003, Reclamation awarded WCA the primary contract to complete the excavation for the Durango Pumping Plant. WCA recently began initial site preparation activities at the pumping plant site in advance of the heavy construction phase.

“As we’ve indicated repeatedly, blasting operations will be conducted carefully using safety monitors, warning signs, traffic detours and blasting mats,” said Schumacher. “Without question, the safety of the Durango public and site workers is our highest priority.” WCA was formed in 1985 by the Tribal Council of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and qualifies as a minority business contractor. All projects contracted by WCA are done so on a merit shop basis with a maximum use of Indian laborers and craftsmen. Additional skilled craft workers from the local area workforce are contracted to compliment WCA’s staff allowing the company to handle projects over a wide range of disciplines.

WCA does business in all of the Four Corner states. WCA provides comprehensive construction and building services to a wide range of clients including federal, state and local municipalities, agricultural concerns and private sector organizations. “Our management team and work crews have an abundance of heavy construction and engineering expertise in construction of major public works projects,” said Robin Halverson, General Manager of Weeminuche Construction authority.“WCA’s work crews have extensive experience in heavy construction including site preparation, clearing, earthwork and grading, dams, drainage structures, roads, utilities and piping.” WCA’s previous experience includes construction of the Towaoc Canal, a Dolores Project feature that brings water to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe from McPhee Reservoir, major septic and water system improvements in Mesa Verde National Park, and construction and development of laterals for the Dolores Project.

Sky Ute Sand and Gravel, a wholly owned enterprise of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, was selected to supply all of the project's batched materials. Sky Ute Sand and Gravel was recently established and currently supplies ready mix concrete and road surfacing materials in the Four Corners area.

Reclamation will provide current information on construction activities at www.usbr.gov, then click on the Animas-La Plata Project link. In addition area residents can call Reclamation’s info-line at 866-720-0918 to listen to recorded updates about impending construction activities and receive information on whom to call with specific concerns. Mass distribution of project construction schedules and bulletins will be used throughout the construction process to inform area residents and businesses of upcoming construction and blasting activities, road detours and intermittent closures of Santa Rita Park and the Animas River. In addition, the project officials will distribute regular and “as-needed” bulletins detailing construction progress.

The pumping plant excavation will also include the use of a cofferdam (temporary dam) around work areas in the river to allow construction of an intake structure. Work in the river will not begin until after Labor Day.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at www.usbr.gov.