Two troublesome sand piles in the reservoir basin behind the recently completed Upper Stillwater Dam will be capped with concrete to keep the sand from washing into Rock Creek.
The Bureau of Reclamation has awarded a $1,575,143 contract to Torno America Inc., of San Francisco, which was one of only two contractors that submitted bids for the work.Red sand was stirred into the water when the dam began to fill last fall and the tainted water washed through the dam and discolored Rock Creek clear to Duchesne, about 30 miles to the south. Several members of the Ute Indian tribe have sued the bureau in federal court, claiming the sand that washed through the dam damaged fisheries and natural resources on Indian land.
Bureau officials also considered removing the sand. Both that option and the plan to cap the sand piles required the bureau to wait until the reservoir could be drained below the level of the sand piles.
The capping project should be completed by mid-November, said Clifford I. Barrett, director of the bureau's Upper Colorado Region. The project involves encasing the sand in cement.
Barrett said some discoloration and clouding is expected in the water at least through next spring even with the sand piles capped because of construction disturbances and existing sand layers throughout the reservoir basin.
The contract also includes work to stabilize a U.S. Forest Service trail around the reservoir and to repair a boat ramp.