KREMMLING — “An abundance of caution” was the phrase used by Jim Pokrandt, Communication and Education Specialist with the Colorado River Water Conservation District, when describing the reasoning behind ongoing efforts by the District to collect and analyze data related to the settlement of Ritschard Dam.
Ritschard Dam impounds Wolford Mountain Reservoir, located on Muddy Creek just north of Kremmling. Construction on the Dam was completed in 1995 and falls under the auspices of the dam’s owners the Colorado River Water Conservation District.
Ritschard Dam is an earth-filled dam. As Pokrandt explained, “With anything involving earth, settlement is expected.”
Unfortunately, as Pokrandt went on to explain, a portion of the dam has settled faster than the dam designers expected.
“The variations are small, but there is an abundance of caution,” he said.
“We are monitoring the conditions at the dam. The dam is not considered unsafe,” said Bill McCormick, chief of the Dam Safety Branch of the Division of Water Resources.
McCormick explained, “approximately four to five years ago there were anomalous instrumentation readings showing the dam had settled unexpectedly in ways that were not predicted in the design.”
“We have not identified a safety concern that has required us to put a restriction on the reservoir,” he pointed out.
According to Pokrandt, construction equipment visible on the dam is part of ongoing work to install measuring devices to gauge both water levels and movements within the dam.
Data collection and analysis regarding settlement of the earth-fill structure has been under way for several years now and the process will continue.
Pokrandt explained that any construction on the dam undertaken by the District, “will be very expensive” and the District wanted more information and data before any decisions were made regarding new construction.
“We are monitoring the conditions at the dam. The dam is not considered unsafe.”
Chief, Dam Safety Branch,
Division of Water Resources