Last Wednesday, members of the Watershed Committee got the chance to visit the Paonia Reservoir Dam and portions of Fire Mountain Canal. Steve Fletcher of Fire Mountain Canal and Mark Smith of the North Fork Water Conservancy District took the group on an extensive tour of the dam infrastructure. The group descended 200’ to see the internal gates and structure of the dam. Steve explained the history of the Paonia Reservoir and the water it supplies to Roger’s Mesa and others throughout the North Fork Valley. He also explained what needed to take place this fall to make repairs to the bulkhead within the reservoir intake.
The group then traveled down river to see the Fire Mountain Canal Diversion below Somerset. Steve explained the function of the diversion and also the improvements they have made to reduce the amount of debris that can get caught in the trash rack. The group was able to see the bear creek gate that allows Fire Mountain Canal to make fine adjustments to the volume of water flowing through the canal. The tour ended at Terror Creek where the canal makes an impressive dive under that creek, using a siphon to return the canal back above ground to the open ditch before continuing down to Roger’s Mesa . Interested in how you can be a part of water quality monitoring that is going on this fall as part of the Paonia Reservoir draw down? Contact Jake@theconservationcenter.org.