Ute Tribal Ceremony Marks Rising of Ridges Basin Dam from the Excavated Foundation

Media Contact: Doug Hendrix, (801) 524-3837
Barry Wirth, (801) 524-3774

For Release: August 12, 2005

Durango, CO - At a celebration to mark the initial placement of impervious core material in Ridges Basin Dam, Reclamation today announced the rising of the dam from its excavated foundation. When completed, Ridges Basin Dam, a key component of the Animas-La Plata Project, will boast one of the nation's most state-of-the art pumping plants and together with Lake Nighthorse will provide the Four Corners area with 120,000 acre-feet of long-term water storage.

"The Animas-La Plata Project is more than just a dam, a pumping plant, and a reservoir facility. It is a commitment and an investment in the future of the Four Corners Area of the United States," said Reclamation Commissioner John W. Keys, III. "When Congress approved the project, they made the commitment to improve the lives of the people, to provide a reliable and renewable source of water and build a world-class project that the local residents and communities could be proud of." In March 2005, Reclamation awarded a contract in the amount of approximately $84.9 million to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe's Weeminuche Construction Authority (WCA) of Towaoc, Colo., for completion of construction of Ridges Basin Dam. When completed in 2008, the earthen and clay dam will have a structural height of 275 feet with a 1,600 foot crest length. "The estimated three year construction of Ridges Basin Dam will require an orchestrated and dedicated team of workers and equipment striving together to construct a safe, economical, and functional structure," said Rick Ehat, Lead Project Engineer. "Those are just not merely words, those words present challenges to people which will go unmatched in their lifetimes. Controlling the natural materials which the dam is comprised and placing them in a manner which will withstand the test of time and nature's forces is no simple feat. That is a job which Reclamation and the contractor are prepared to accomplish."

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 (more)

recreational, fishery and water quality purposes. Upon completion of the entire project, water stored in Lake Nighthorse will be used by municipal and industrial users within Colorado and New Mexico.

"Each person working on the project has one "said Robin Halverson, General Manager of Weeminuche Construction Authority. "To do this, our workers are working with the forces nature to shape soil, concrete, steel, sweat and intellect into a state-of-the-art facility."

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. The Project also will supply 4,680 Acre-feet per year through a pipeline from Farmington to Shiprock, New Mexico for the Navajo Nation. 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 that is 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.

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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 and follow us on Twitter @USBR.