Fraser River sediment will be cleared with grant funds
State grants totaling $247,000 will help remove sediment from the Fraser River.This summer the funding will be used to create a D-shaped berm to slow the speed of the river in the Fraser River Settling Pond, located across from the Mary Jane entrance.A new access road and truck turnaround will also be installed for maintenance vehicles so there is no traffic over Denver Waters diversion pipe. The ponds bottom will be layered with 6 inches of gravel and topped with 18 inches of cobble as well.Work will start Sept. 1, and the project is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 10, said Kirk Klancke, East Grand Water Quality chairman and Winter Park Ranch Water & Sanitation District manager.In fall 2009 the pond will be drained for maintenance and sediment will be removed to a Grand County gravel pit.CDOT will spend up to $40,000 to drain the pond each year, Klancke said.Its a huge commitment on their part.The state awarded the East Grand Water Quality Board a grant of $187,000, and the Colorado Department of Transportation matched the grant with $60,000. Its so important to the river to accomplish this, Klancke said. I drove home kind of pinching myself. I didnt think even in my lifetime wed see it happen.It has a positive impact on the river all the way down to the Colorado state line, he added. Its so important for us to keep (the river) clean, because what happens in the headwaters affects the river downstream, probably all the way to the ocean.CDOT deposits about 9,000 tons of traction sand each winter on the west side of Berthoud Pass. It recovers more than half of the material, but part of the remaining sand ends up in the river.With reduced flows the Fraser River is unable to flush the sediment out. We have to be really careful about any sediment getting in the water, Klancke said. We live on an extremely depleted river. The more water you remove from the river, the less velocity the river has and the less capability of carrying sediment.Sediment covers spawning beds and smothers bug life, he said.It really has killed off the aquatic habitat, Klancke said. You just cant cover a habitat without killing everything in that habitat. Trout wont lay eggs in anything but gravel.St. Louis Creek doesnt have this problem, he said.Theyre similar streams, but one has 10 times the fish life and no traction sand.
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Grand Lake officials will discuss next week a plan to halt new construction in downtown Grand Lake.