Flood to affect irrigators

Grand Valley Water Users Association crews work on a breach of the Highline Canal east of 25 Road. The water has been diverted so the canal can be repaired, which could take up to a week, according to the water association.

It could be up to a week before irrigation service is restored to customers served by the Government Highline Canal in northern Grand Junction following a pipe break and flooding in the canal Monday.

It will take two or three days to install a concrete pipe where a section of metal pipe underneath the canal broke away at about 5 p.m. Monday near 25 Road, according to Grand Valley Water Users’ Association Manager Dick Proctor.

The broken pipe contained water that was being diverted from the desert and caused the canal to overflow four hours before heavy rains caused more flooding in the canal. Monday’s rainfall total of 0.94 of an inch was a record for July 11 in Grand Junction, eclipsing the old mark of 0.61 of an inch in 1936, according to the National Weather Service.

The flow of water into the canal has been shut off to allow crew members to work on the new pipe installation. It will take another two or three days to refill the canal after the pipe is replaced, Proctor said.

“We ask that people be patient and know we will get the water on as quickly as we can,” Proctor said. “People want an exact date, but we can’t give them that right now.”

The canal feeds irrigation users in northern Grand Junction as well as customers of irrigation groups in Palisade, Orchard Mesa and areas north of Grand Junction in unincorporated Mesa County. Only Orchard Mesa, which receives its irrigation water from a section of Highline Canal above 25 Road, will receive water as usual for now, Proctor said.

A crew from the Water Users’ Association used everything from chunks of concrete to a mattress to try to support the canal’s banks and divert the overflow of water Monday evening after the section of pipe disappeared, according to Dan Crabtree, water-management-group chief for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Grand Junction office.

The canal overflowed again around 9 p.m. during a rainstorm. The overflow of rainwater surged from the canal to Leach Creek near 26 1/2 Road, and the creek carried water through northwestern Grand Junction, down 24 Road and into the Colorado River, Crabtree said.

Bob Spaid, crew leader for the city of Grand Junction’s streets department, spent Monday night and Tuesday morning cleaning up roads and parking lots along Leach Creek near 24 Road. About eight inches of water swamped the road near the intersection of F 1/2 Road.

“By about 2 a.m. there was water almost to the white line,” Spaid said about 24 Road’s westbound lane. “It was quite a sight to see last night. City Market (630 24 Road) told me they were in fear of their gas tanks flooding.”

Parking lots, roads and low-lying areas in the Paradise Hills subdivision took on inches of water after the Highline Canal burst its banks, and overflow from Cochren Wash swamped the parking lots of Canyon View Park with mud.

“To my knowledge no businesses were damaged,” Spaid said.

Flooding could have been much worse along 24 Road if not for Grand Junction’s “Big Pipe” project, which was undertaken in recent years to alleviate flooding, and a redesign of the Leach Creek waterway, according to Grand Junction City Manager Laurie Kadrich.

“Otherwise we wouldn’t have the same results,” Kadrich said.

City crews used street sweepers and heavy machinery all day Tuesday to clear mud and water from the residential streets and businesses in the area.

Mesa County closed a section of 24 1/2 Road between H and I roads Tuesday as well as a section of H Road between 24 and 24 1/2 roads to clean the streets of debris and mud and repair shoulders that had been washed away. Monday night’s storm left an eight-foot drop-off from the road to the roadside on the closed section of 24 1/2 Road, Mesa County spokeswoman Jessica Peterson said, and there was a four-foot drop-off to be repaired on the closed section of H Road.

Mesa County crews worked overnight Tuesday and hope to have the two closed areas open by tonight, Peterson said.

“That’s barring any weather issues or unforeseen circumstances,” she said.

Reporter Amy Hamilton contributed to this report.


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