The Mancos Conservation District is overhauling a section on the Mancos River to improve water flow in the Exon ditch and fish habitat in the river.
Just downstream from the Road J bridge, contractors Russell Klatt and Keith Duncan have torn out the headgate for the Exon ditch and are installing a new one.
The work is in the second phase of a $119,000 conservation district project that will improve irrigation flow, Klatt said. The district received the funding through a Colorado Water Conservation Board grant.
The contractors also are installing two weirs below the gate and three bank bars above the gate, he said. The long bars, made out of quarry rock, will help prevent erosion, and the weirs, constructed from standing boulders, will help the water pool around the gate to better serve the five water users along the ditch. All told, the headgate improvement will use 63 tons of rock.
"It should be more efficient," Klatt said.
It also will be more environmental-friendly. Workers will no longer disturb the river each year to make sure water flows into the Exon ditch.
Workers previously used heavy equipment to move stones around in the river to make sure water pooled in the right place, and each year the stones washed away. Workers also struggled with a collapsing river bank.
"When we walk away, this should last 10 to 20 years," Klatt said.
The pools of water will also add habitat for the bluehead sucker, a species of concern in the area. This stage of river improvements builds on 2.4 miles of work completed in September and October.
The project was set to be completed this week, after about 10 days of work.
The Viets headgate also is scheduled for construction, but the timing depends on available funding, he said.