It was down to the wire, the city of Fruita was about to lose water rights to the water in Fruita Reservoir number one. So they enlisted the Colorado National Guard to help. Now, they are just days away from completing the massive project.
"We are thrilled to be here, the soldiers are excited and we are just here to help the city of Fruita," says Captain Ryan Brock with the Colorado National Guard.
In 2001, the city of Fruita breached the dam because it no longer met state and federal regulations. The water rights to the reservoir were set to expire this year with the city losing its rights if they didn’t fix the dam wall. The problem was, the city couldn’t afford the $1 million dollar price tag. County Commissioner Craig Meis says of the project, "While it's a high priority we have a lot of high priorities right now." Meis says calling in the guard was one of the only ways to get the dam fixed. "Estimated about a million dollar project of which the guard is contributing about $350,000 of that," says Meis. Along with the city of Fruita the County is also paying a portion of the remaining cost of the dam reconstruction.
For the Colorado National Guard the project, the project is the ideal way to train their soldiers, providing each with real world experience while helping out a community. Meis says, "You can't get a better win, win situation out of that."
The Guard has helped local communities before but never at this scope. Brock says, "This big of a project is definitely a new concept to the Colorado National Guard."
The water from reservoir one is sold to Glade Park water users by the city of Fruita. But officials hope the new dam will open up the area for recreation as well. "For storage rights its going to be very important for putting fish in there and letting kids and grandpas and grandmas fish up here," says Fruita Mayor Ken Henry.
The guard will stage two platoons in the area, the first coming in June 23rd. Those soldiers will be from Grand Junction. Officials hope to have all work finished by early August. "We are kind of challenged as far as the timeline but we think we are going to finish it but if we don't we have a back up plan for that," says, Brock.
Securing water rights for the city and training Colorado’s soldiers at the same time.