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Construction begins on Vallecito decontamination station

Reservoir building is part of the Pine River Project dealing with aquatic nuisance species
A new decontamination station at Vallecito Reservoir will protect Colorado’s resources and infrastructure from invasive species. (Durango Herald file)

Construction began last week on a new aquatic nuisance species decontamination station at Vallecito Reservoir, which will be completed in May 2023.

The ANS is focused on protecting Colorado’s water resources and infrastructure from the establishment of harmful invasive species, including zebra and quagga mussels, both of which are invasive fresh water mollusks that disrupt already existing food chains by reducing the availability of food for larval and juvenile fishes meant for sport and commercial fisheries, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s website. The ANS program is critical to protecting the water supply and delivery infrastructure for municipal, industrial and agricultural use.

“The existing ANS is undersized and needs updating,” said Ed Warner, western Colorado area office manager. “ANS decontamination stations are an important part of Reclamation’s ANS Program to stop the spread of mussels at Reclamation facilities and in our waterways.”

“ANS dreissenid mussels are a significant threat because they are prolific breeders and settle on or within water infrastructure and can fail water transmissions by clogging water features,” said Justyn Liff, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Reclamation in western Colorado, in an email to The Durango Herald. “These mussels are not native to North America and negatively affect the natural ecology of native fisheries.”

Lift said the new facility will be capable of performing more extensive decontamination measures and will have an on-demand, tankless water heater system that will save water, as well as a high-pressure pump. The new bathrooms and accessibility will also benefit visitors to the reservoir.

Besides the decontamination station, Liff said there are other preventive measures residents and visitors can take before and after leaving bodies of water, such as cleaning everything off watercraft, including plants, animals and mud; draining every space and item that could hold water, including live wells, bait containers, ballast and bilge tanks, and engine cooling systems; allowing sufficient time for boats and equipment to dry before launching into the water; and disposing of unused live bait in trash containers, not into the water. Similarly, aquarium and classroom pets, as well as plants, need to be placed in trash containers, not in the water or natural settings.

The new building is part of the Pine River Project in southern Colorado. Authorized by Congress and the Department of Interior in 1937, the Pine River Project provides water from Pine River and Vallecito Creek for agricultural uses on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation and Pine River Valley areas.


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