Seaman Reservoir gate work moves ahead

Construction crews took full advantage of the warm weather that continued through October to work on the outlet gate system at the Milton Seaman Reservoir located northwest of Fort Collins, according to city of Greeley water officials.

“We hope the contractor can finish up before everything freezes up hard,” said Project Manager Sam Boone on a day when local temperatures approached 70 degrees. The $1.6 million contract requires completion no later than April 1, 2012.

The Greeley water and sewer department operates the 4,000-acre-foot reservoir on the North Fork of the Cache La Poudre River. The water level — 77 feet at the dam — was gradually drawn down to 28 feet by Oct. 1 to allow access to the five hydraulic gate actuators.

“The water quality on the North Fork and the main stem (of the Poudre) is about what you would expect at this time of year (after the water release),” said Randy Gustafson, water resources administrator for Greeley. “We’ve had no noticeable fish fatalities so far.”

Boone added that workers from Aslan Construction of Berthoud “didn’t lose a drop” of biodegradable oil when they pulled the first three pairs of hydraulic lines.

Absorbent booms have been installed above Gateway Park on the North Fork, downstream from the reservoir’s outlet tunnel, to catch any oil that could leak, Boone added.

One gate must remain operational throughout construction to maintain flow into the river, Boone said. The gates will all be closed during the day and opened at night.

In 2008, Seaman was drained for repairs to two gates. After an inspection, however, officials decided it would be better to replace the entire operating system, in place since the late 1940s.

“We aren’t replacing the cast-iron gates themselves,” Boone said. “A dive team inspected them in 2008 and they’re in relatively good condition. And to replace them would require the reservoir be drained totally.”
The current project involves installing new stainless steel hydraulic lines and a new power unit and extending the trash racks — grates that keep downed tree limbs and other debris from clogging the outflow.

New actuators will be installed higher, about 45 feet down, to allow easier access for future maintenance.

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