County monitors and prepares for high water conditions in spring runoff season

May 16, 2011

Local residents have started picking up sand bags from the District 2-3 Road and Bridge shop on Hunter Mesa in preparation for a heavy runoff. Around 400 bags filled with sand have already been given out for high water protection. Garfield County citizens can obtain 20 full sand bags or 50 empty ones from the county for free. Sand and bags are available for purchase from Roaring Fork Valley Co-Op, at Lowe’s and at Mr. T’s Hardware & Building Supply. “We’re up and running, and have had people come in and pick up both empty and full bags,” said Garfield County Public Works Director Betsy Suerth. “We are monitoring the river flows carefully as we see how the weather impacts the runoff.”

Sand and bags are available at the Hunter Mesa Road and Bridge Shop from 8:00 am — 3:00 pm, Monday – Friday, 0298 County Road 333A, Rifle, Colorado. If you are in need of more mitigation, please contact Road & Bridge at 970-625-8601 for further assistance.

The Colorado Snotel website (a website that shows snow water equivalents that are measured using special sensors) is showing a snowpack that is exceeding what has been measured since the Snotel measurements began in the early 1980s. This means that stream runoff conditions could bring high water to many areas around Garfield County, depending on how quickly temperatures rise and the weather conditions leading up to the changes in temperature. Currently, the peak runoff is predicted to take place in mid-June. The Garfield County Public Works staff will stay informed regarding peak flow predictions as conditions change throughout the runoff season and take mitigation measures.

The Road and Bridge Department is preparing for high water conditions in several ways. Roads that are subject to flooding have been identified and will be protected using appropriate protection measures or barriers to close roads if conditions warrant. The District Foremen and Assistant County Engineer are inspecting bridges to assess scour potential. Road crews are inspecting upstream of bridges and culverts and clearing debris where possible to prevent infrastructure damage. In the coming weeks, sand bags will be filled and available for community use at the Hunter Mesa Road and Bridge Shop. Empty sand bags will also be available.

According to the State Staff Bridge Report, Garfield County has 4-bridges that are “scour critical” and may require closure in the event of high water. The locations of these bridges are as follows:

  • CR 108 – The bridge over the Crystal River near Colorado Rocky Mountain School
  • CR 300 – The bridge over the Colorado River at Battlement Mesa
  • CR 311 – The bridge over the Colorado River at Silt
  • CR 344 – The bridge over Divide Creek and Porter Ditch

These bridges will be monitored and if determined to be threatened, will be closed until the high water subsides. Detours will be provided, although some will be lengthy. Any closures/detours will be well signed, posted here on this website, and carefully considered for the safety of the public and for the protection of critical infrastructure.

Residents are responsible for removing and disposing of sand bags after the threat of high water has passed.

Related information:
Sheriff’s Office June 1, 2011 Press Release – high water information and hydrograph