Council fears gravel pit could affect Rifle’s raw water intake
RIFLE – An application for a watershed permit to construct a gravel pit south of Rifle on the Colorado River is back before city officials, who are concerned that the operation may change the flow of the Colorado River and affect the city’s raw water intake.City councilors discussed the issue for more than three hours at their regular meeting on Oct. 3. The public hearing portion of the application is being continued until the Nov. 7 council meeting.The 64-acre gravel pit, known as the “Scott Expansion” to the Chambers Pit, is located within a floodplain on the south side of the Colorado River across from the city’s water intake near the Rifle exit ramp. Of major concern is that of “pit capture,” which could possibly shift the flow of the river away from the city’s waterworks intakes.”Our concern is how it would affect the river flow,” said Mayor Keith Lambert. “If there’s a flood and the walls built up to protect the pit fail or erode, it could redirect the channel of the river. And if the channel of the river is redirected, it could potentially leave our water intake high and dry.”The issue is not a new one to Rifle or Garfield County. United Companies of Mesa County in Grand Junction, which is seeking the watershed permit from the city as well as a zoning permit from the county, began the process earlier this year, but later pulled the application due to technical problems. The property is owned by Bill Bailey, doing business as Colorado Rivers Edge LLC.Councilors spent more than three hours discussing their concerns, which included the water intake as well as impacts on wildlife, views and structural integrity to the bridge that crosses the river.In July, the Rifle City Council passed two resolutions asking that the county have a master plan in place for the Colorado River before approving any more gravel pits along the river.United Companies has yet to receive a zoning permit from the county for the Scott pit operation. The issue will again be before council at Wednesday night’s meeting, but the public hearing will not take place until Nov. 7.
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