A construction worker hangs over rebar finishing concrete during the rebuilding of the spillway at Scofield Reservoir.
For the last three years, the federal government has hired contractors to fix the spillway and other attached fixtures at Scofield Reservoir. Now the work is nearly complete.
And, nearly, according to the Carbon Water Conservancy District board, is the operative word.
"I think we are on the short end of the project now," said board chair, Richard Lee, during a quarterly meeting of the district's governing body on Tuesday afternoon.
But, as the board discussed the project and learned that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation wants them to sign off on a letter of substantial completion soon, the entire group balked at such a move, saying they wanted to wait until they know more about what that means and how it could affect any warranty on dam work that is already completed.
Their reasons for feeling that the dam is not quite substantially finished include:
A place where the contractor still needs to cut out some concrete and apply "special caulk" to provide a watertight seal.
Release and retention gates that work fine with grid power, but do not have a generator in place that will open or close them in an emergency if the regular electricity is out.
Leakage, literally under the spillway, when the pressure of the lake reached higher proportions earlier this year.
Whether the installed electrical system meets standards in the design plan.
Whether cracks that have appeared in the new concrete are only cosmetic or something more.
Lee explained to the board that the BOR has asked him about the district signing such a letter, but said that they have not submitted the details of the document to the district board.
"We need to write a letter to the BOR and ask them to give us a copy of this letter they want us to sign off on," said board member, Mike Milovich. "Then we can make a determination of what they see as substantially completed."
The board agreed that none of them felt that the dam, at the present time, fit what they perceived to be substantially completed.
The price of the revamp has also gone well over what it was expected to cost. Presently, the costs for the project have reached around $11.2 million.
The board also heard a report from river commissioner, Bob Davis, who addressed reservoir level activity since last winter. He said the reservoir presently contains 24,400 acre feet of water. The release rate at the dam is 10 feet per second. Last year, in mid-December, the lake level was 16,230 acre feet, with the same release rate. The lowest level since spring has been 23,784 acre feet, and that was measured on Oct. 3 of this year. The highest level was last spring at 53,499 acre feet. That is when the seepage under the spillway was discovered. At that point, the BOR told him to start releasing water rapidly.
The reservoir can, storage wise, accept around 65,500 acre feet of water before it starts to go over the spillway. And that is one of the items about which the board was most concerned. They felt that, even with good water seasons, it will take three years to fill the reservoir to that level. They were concerned that problems with the construction that is now being completed may only appear when the reservoir reaches that level of storage.
The board voted to approve Milovich's motion and send the BOR a letter asking about completion expectations as well as warranties on the work that has been done.