Weeminuche Construction Authority Awarded Contract for Construction of the Remainder of the Durango Pumping Plant

Media Contact: Ken Beck, 970-385-6558
Doug Hendrix, 801-633-5018 (cell)

For Release: August 12, 2004

The Department of the Interior announced today that the Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a contract in the amount of $51.5 million to Weeminuche Construction Authority (WCA), based in Towaoc, Colo., for construction of the remainder of the Durango Pumping Plant, a major component of the Animas-La Plata Project in southwestern Colorado.

WCA 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.

"Today's contract award is direct testimony to our support for completion of the Animas-La Plata Project," said Gale Norton, Secretary of the Department of the Interior. "This contract award allows the Project contractors to move forward with construction of the structural components of the Durango Pumping Plant, which will deliver water to Ridges Basin Reservoir." Features to be constructed in this contract include the main pump house, intake and screen structures, intake/discharge manifolds and pipe, main pumps and motors, electrical controls, indoor cranes, an elevator, air chambers, cooling water systems, flow meters, lighting, interior finishing and painting, access road paving, site landscaping, and river bank restoration. The contract also includes provisions for providing a tap for a future City of Durango hook-up, if requested by the city.

Excavation for the pumping plant and construction of portions of the intake structure and fish bypass features were completed under an earlier contract by WCA and are visible from Santa Rita Park across the river. The intake structure serves as the entry point for diverting water into the pumping plant. Within this structure, a 100-foot long fish screen unit will be constructed to prevent fish from entering the pumps. The fish are returned to the river through the fish bypass features consisting of a pipe embedded under the existing river bottom and a partially submerged outlet structure that can be seen near the highway bridge.

Water for the eight pump units will travel through the fish screen and enter the plant through an 84-inch diameter steel pipe that has separate feed pipes for each unit. The pump units will be horizontal centrifugal pumps operated by electric motors. These pumps will allow the plant to pump a maximum of 280 cubic feet per second (2,000 gallons per second). The operation of the plant will be limited by senior water rights and the amount of seasonal minimum river bypass flows existing in the Animas River.

The pump house will be constructed of concrete, up to eight (8) feet thick, and rises 103 feet from the lowest point to the highest point. Most of the building will be below ground level, with most of the structure extending only 18 feet above. The highest point of the building will be 39 feet above ground level. The building is approximately 90 feet wide and more than 200 feet in length. More than 21,000 cubic yards of structural concrete will be placed in the construction of the pumping plant. The exposed features of the building have been designed to blend into the surrounding environment and architectural flavor of the area.

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 supplies ready-mix concrete and road surfacing materials in the Four Corners area.

Significant subcontracts will be used for various components of work, including the electrical and mechanical work, which will be performed by Gardner Zemke Company of Albuquerque, N.M. The contractor will use environmental controls for noise and dust abatement, and erosion control. The groundwater will be monitored and tested during construction.

The contract will commence around the middle of August and will continue several years, with final completion of the pumping plant projected for 2009. The pumping plant is part of the overall Animas-La Plata Project, which is currently under construction near Durango, Colo.

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, and several other entities, with a reliable water supply for their future needs, while protecting scarce water resources for existing water users in southwestern Colorado and northwestern New Mexico.

Quick Facts:

- The 21,000 cubic yards of concrete is enough concrete to cover a football field to a depth of 4 feet.

- The reinforced concrete in the pumping plant will utilize approximately 1,100 tons of reinforcing steel. This is equivalent in weight to roughly 370 automobiles.

- The pumping plant will require approximately 37 miles of electrical conductor wire. This is enough wire to run from Durango to Bayfield and back again.

- The pumping plant will require 215 tons of structural steel and steel components.

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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.

Relevant Link:

Animas-La Plata web site