Reclamation Announces Award of Contract to Build Ridges Basin Inlet Conduit

Media Contact: Doug Hendrix, (801) 524-3837
Ken Beck, (970) 385-6558

For Release: December 04, 2006

The Bureau of Reclamation announced today that it has awarded a contract in the amount of approximately $17.6 million to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe's Weeminuche Construction Authority (WCA) of Towaoc, Colo., for completion of construction of the Ridges Basin Inlet Conduit. When completed, the inlet conduit, a core feature of the Animas-La Plata Project, will carry Animas River water from the Durango Pumping Plant to Lake Nighthorse.

"It gives me great pleasure to announce the award of the contract for construction of the inlet conduit as it signifies the start of another phase of the Animas-La Plata Project and construction ingenuity at its best," said Reclamation Commissioner Robert W. Johnson. "We're certainly on a roll with construction of the Animas-La Plata Project now standing approximately 44 percent complete. In the past three years tremendous progress has been made on the dam embankment, outlet works and pumping plant." The primary features to be constructed under the inlet conduit contract award, include: construction of a 72-inch buried steel pipeline that will convey project water 2.1 miles from the pumping plant to the reservoir; construction of the vents and stilling structures that will regulate the flow of the water being pumped from the Animas River to the reservoir.

The inlet conduit will be buried in a trench at a normal depth of five to eight feet below the ground and backfilled so that upon completion of the construction, the terrain can be re-vegetated. When completed, the conduit will terminate on the reservoir side of the ridge with a stilling structure from which the flow will continue to the reservoir.

The route of the conduit from the pumping plant to the reservoir will travel southerly from the pumping plant, turn southwest to cross CR 211 and Bodo Draw before turning to the west to continue to Lake Nighthorse. The conduit route from the Animas River to Lake Nighthorse was selected because it provides the lowest pumping lift between the Animas River and Lake Nighthorse.

Reclamation anticipates that work on this inlet conduit contract to be completed in 2009. Additional details concerning this contract, along with other information on the Animas-La Plata Project, are available at Reclamation's web site at by clicking on the Animas-La Plata Project link.

Upon completion of the entire project, water stored in Lake Nighthorse will be released from the dam as necessary and will fall via gravity back to the Animas River for use by municipal and industrial users within Colorado and New Mexico. Other non-federally constructed distribution systems are anticipated. Lake Nighthorse will impound approximately 120,000 acre-feet (AF) of water and include an inactive pool of approximately 30,000 AF for recreational, fishery, and water quality purposes. Based on the current construction schedule, the Animas-La Plata Project is planned for completion in 2012. The reservoir is scheduled to start filling in 2009. Commissioner Johnson also complimented WCA's quality of work and progress to date on the Ridges Basin Dam, the Durango Pumping Plant and other features of the project currently under construction. "Construction of the Animas-La Plata Project is the product of the dedicated workers, planning and design teams, and project sponsors and beneficiaries, but it is foremost the product of individuals who have brought and continue to bring their training, talents and passion to bear on the job."

The Animas-La Plata Project fulfills the requirements of the 1988 Colorado Ute Indian Water Rights Settlement Act and the Colorado Ute Settlement Act Amendment of 2000. When completed, the project will provide the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the people of the four corners area 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.

WCA, based in Towaoc, Colo., is a minority commercial construction company owned and operated by the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. WCA has extensive experience in all phases of construction and related engineering disciplines, including: oil and gas field construction, residential and commercial buildings, heavy construction, road building, canals and water systems, sand and gravel, and municipal improvements.

# # #

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 and follow us on Twitter @USBR.