Reclamation Celebrates Completion of Ridges Basin Dam

Media Contact: Doug Hendrix, (801) 524-3837
Rick Ehat, (970) 259-1110 x1004

For Release: November 09, 2007

Durango, CO - At a celebration to mark the final placement of embankment material on Ridges Basin Dam, the Bureau of Reclamation today joined with the Colorado Ute Tribes, the Navajo Nation, and non-Tribal Project Sponsors to commemorate the completion of the signature feature of the Animas-La Plata Project (A-LP).

"Over the past three years, tremendous progress has been made in completing general construction of the dam and appurtenant structures," said Rick Ehat, Lead Construction Engineer and Manager of Reclamation's Four Corners Construction Office. "Ridges Basin Dam is the largest earthen structure of its kind under construction in the U. S. Completion of the dam is a testament to the dedicated efforts of the Colorado Ute Indian Tribes teamed with the Project beneficiaries to get this work done."

When completed in 2012, the A-LP will boast some of the world's most modern engineering, design and structural integrity features and provide the Four Corners area with an additional 120,000 acre-feet of long-term water storage. Construction of the facility is being followed worldwide by leading engineering firms, public works contractors and water agencies.

"The three-year construction of Ridges Basin Dam required a dedicated team of craft workers, designers, engineers, and support people, as well as untold pieces of equipment and material organized and deployed according to exacting specifications and schedules," said Ehat.

To build the dam, rock, clay and cobble materials were identified, processed and relocated from adjacent areas. Since the initial placement of impervious clay in Ridges Basin Dam in August 2005, more than 5.2 million cubic yards of additional clay, rock and sand have been placed at the dam bringing its structural height to 273 feet above bedrock and a 1,642 foot crest length. When completed, Ridges Basin Dam and Lake Nighthorse will impound approximately 120,000 acre-feet (AF) of water and include and inactive pool of approximately 30,000 AF for recreational, fishery and water quality purposes. Upon completion of the entire project, water stored in Lake Nighthorse will provide a reliable municipal and industrial water supply to Tribes and the people of the four corners area to sustain future needs, without taking scarce water resources away from existing water users in southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico.

Participants involved in the construction of the project are the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the Navajo Nation and Reclamation. Consistent with the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act, Public Law 93-638, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe is responsible for the primary contract and construction activities, and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe is responsible for supplying all "batched" materials.

In building the project, Reclamation is responsible for project design and construction management, land acquisition, mitigation planning, and environmental oversight. The non-tribal participants involved in the project include the Animas-La Plata Water Conservancy District, La Plata Conservancy District of New Mexico, the San Juan Water Commission, the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority, and the state of Colorado. The Southwestern Water Conservation District holds the Colorado component of the water rights associated with A-LP and has been a long time proponent of the project as well.

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 by delivering water to both Colorado Ute Tribes as well as several non-tribal participants. The Project also will supply 4,680 acre-feet per year through a pipeline from Farmington to Shiprock, New Mexico for the Navajo Nation.

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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 and follow us on Twitter @USBR.