Saturday’s flash flooding crippled Grand Lake’s hydro power, washed ash into lake | SkyHiNews.com
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Saturday’s flash flooding crippled Grand Lake’s hydro power, washed ash into lake

Town working with parks service to get power plant operating

Sky-Hi News staff report
news@skyhinews.com
The head gate to Grand Lake’s hydro power plant is blocked by trees washed up during Saturday’s flash flooding. You can see the head gate on the right side of the picture.
Courtesy Grand Lake

Flash flooding on Tonahutu Creek piled up enough trees, mud and debris Saturday night to shut down Grand Lake’s hydro plant.

Town Manager John Crone estimated Monday that there are about 50 large downed trees piled up at the plant’s head gate while ash and mud filled the ditch leading to another gate.

Grand Lake owns water rights on the creek and uses them to generate power for the town’s wells. The wells on which the town relies for water are fine and operating on other power sources with the hydro power stalled.



Because the creek is on national park land, Crone said the town is working with the National Parks Service to clear the debris.

“It has to happen soon,” Crone said. “We have to get the trees cleared and the water flowing.”



Crone said the floodwater also carried ash into Grand Lake and that some ash washed up onto the beach.

Ash fills the ditch before water flows through the second head gate to Grand Lake’s hydro power plant.
Courtesy Grand Lake

Other damage from mudslides has occurred along Colorado Highway 125 in Grand County and Interstate 70 at Glenwood Canyon, both where major wildfires burned last year.

Flash flooding has been a persistent threat in Grand County, which saw two large wildfires last year and has seen repeated mudslides and flash floods in the burn scars.

Flash flooding can occur with relatively little rainfall in burn areas and often inundates small creeks and streams, gulches, roads, and poor drainage and low-lying areas.

Almost two of every three flash flood deaths occurr in vehicles. Drivers should not attempt to cross flowing streams and never drive through flooded roadways.

According to the National Weather Service, as little as a foot of swift water can float most cars, and two feet of fast-moving water can sweep away many vehicles, including SUVs and trucks.

 


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