Wyo4News Staff, [email protected]
GREEN RIVER, WYOMING (June 23, 2020) — The Green River City Council conducted a workshop Tuesday night, July 21, to begin the discussion on how the City and other partners can put safety measures in place to reduce risk at the diversion dam located upstream from the city limits on the Green River.
The dam is located just south of the old Gorge Rock location. There have been several incidents in the past four years where rafters who go over the dam are caught up in the undertow.
Several rescues by the Green River Fire Department and other agencies have occurred during this time frame, especially on high water flows.
The dam was built in 2010, led by the Green Belt Task Force, with monies from several different organizations including the City of Green River.
The purpose of the diversion dam was to allow side flows to the south to fill in the Killdeer wetlands, which dried up following the construction of the Fontenelle dam.
Green River Mayor Pete Rust says because of changes made to the dam in 2013, plus differing water flows based on Fontenelle releases, safety hazards have developed.
The city placed signs at the County picnic grounds where many begin their floats, and along the river leading into the dam.
Signage warns and encourages floaters to get out of the river and walk around the diversion, however many do not, instead choosing to float over the dam.
The Council agreed Tuesday night to begin the discussion with the many partners who help fund the project and review what were the expectations going in by each of the groups and what that may look like now with the safety concerns. Current projected estimates show the cost to repair the dam at over $300,000 while the cost to remove it could be over $500,000.
The Council agreed that because the dam is not located within the city limits that the cost should not be totally borne by the city, however, the council says doing nothing is not an option.
The goal for the council is to keep the side channel that funnels water to the Killdeer Wetlands, make the structure safe, and remove most of the dam crossing the river.
City staff will begin the process to set up meetings with the partners allowing comment and discussion to develop an agreeable plan to make the diversion dam safe, function properly, and seek grants and other funding mechanisms that may be available to cover the costs to correct the project.
In the meantime, we will be looking to further educate and inform people of the dangers of the diversion dam, especially during high water flows through signage, media, and an educational video.
Click on the link below to see an example of how the current and undertow can create dangers for those who do not port around.