Water flows into Berthoud Reservoir

By Shelley Widhalm
The Surveyor

Courtesy photo
Western Resources, the contractor on the Berthoud Reservoir project, compacting a lift of soil on the new bifurcation dam.

The Town of Berthoud started filling Berthoud Reservoir on Wednesday after significant improvements have been made.
A newly-appointed parks and recreation committee will help decide what kind of amenities the reservoir will offer as early as fall 2018.
The Berthoud Town Board reestablished a seven-member Parks, Open Space, Recreation and Trails Committee (PORT) during the board of trustees meeting April 25. The committee, tasked to start meeting next week on a monthly basis, will make recommendations to the town board and staff on developing and using parks and recreation amenities and identifying areas for open spaces, parks, bikeways and trail systems.
“The reservoir being newly worked on will be one of those forefront projects,” said Jeremy Olinger, parks and recreation director for the Town of Berthoud.
The PORT committee will discuss possible amenities and funding options for a future recreation area at the Berthoud Reservoir, among other parks and recreation projects. The amenities could include a park system with benches, trails with a trailhead, and restroom facilities, Olinger said, adding construction could begin as early as spring 2018.
The amenities will follow a project completed in March that improves the looks and water quality of the reservoir, which is used for storage and to feed the Berthoud Waste-Water Treatment Plant.
“This project was to deepen the reservoir, dredge it out, increase storage, and provide better water quality for the raw water treatment plant,” said Stephanie Brothers, public works director for the Town of Berthoud.
Prior to the Berthoud Reservoir Improvement Project, the water in the reservoir was safe for public consumption but carried an unpleasant taste and odor and had accumulated sediments, minerals, weeds and goose droppings, along with a problem of blue algae. Several municipalities along the Front Range struggle with blue algae resulting from shallow water usage, she said.
“It looks a little deeper, and there’s less vegetation. Hopefully with the vegetation gone, we got rid of the algae in there, and any future algae issues will be easier to control,” she added.
The sediment, which took up five to six feet of the bottom level of the reservoir, caused a loss of overall capacity. The sediment resulted from the town not dredging or cleaning out the reservoir since it took over ownership of it in 1890, according to Brothers.
The town hired Western States Reclamation, Inc., in Frederick, to dredge and improve the reservoir, spending $1.2 million on the entire project, using funds from the town’s raw water impact fee. Work began in October 2016, with the remaining work of filling the reservoir to be completed in early May.
The improvements expanded the reservoir’s capacity from 450-acre-feet to 574-acre-feet – prior to the improvements, the sediment had reduced what could be used to less than 400 acre feet.
The improvements included reconfiguring the structure of the reservoir, dividing it into two cells, with the east cell deeper than the west cell, and adding an internal dam. Once the reservoir is filled, the water in the east cell will be piped to the treatment plant and both cells will be used for storage, she said.
“The east cell allows us to have better water quality for the water plant because it’s deeper, and it makes it easier to manage,” said Mike Hart, town administrator.
Any direct recreation use of the reservoir will be confined to the west cell, Hart said.
“The east cell will be easier to manage, because it’s a little smaller and also deeper,” Brothers stated. “Because we have a smaller cell, and we’ll be turning the water a little, it will help aerate the water and get rid of the algae. … Now it will be easier to manage water quality because of the separation of the water in the reservoir.”

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