The town will submit plans for the reservoir’s spillway to state officials later this month.
The town of Oak Creek intends to submit plans for a new spillway at Sheriff Reservoir to state officials later this month, with the hope that they will be approved early next year and kick off an effort to patch together funding for the multi-million project.
If funding can be assembled from a variety of sources next year, Oak Creek Town Administrator David Torgler said work on the spillway would be completed in the summer of 2025.
“[Sheriff Reservoir] is extremely significant,” Torgler said. “We rely upon Sheriff Reservoir for drinking water for two to three weeks every year.”
There are four phases to work being done at the reservoir, which is owned by the town and is used to supplement water in the town’s namesake waterway when flows decline in the summer months.
Phase one and two of the work at Sheriff Reservoir — a hydrology report and installing a new head gate — have already been completed. Getting complete engineering for the spillway is phase three, which is part of the submission to the State Dam Engineer later this month.
Design for the spillway has changed through the project, with an initial anaylsis showing it needed to be more than 300 feet long. But when reviewed again under newer state regulations designed for mountain communities, Torgler said the spillway now needs to be "about 55 feet long," potentially reducing the overall cost of the spillway by millions.
“I say about because until the state engineer’s office approves anything, nothing goes,” Torgler said.
Torgler said the town hopes to hear back on that engineering early in 2024 and then spend most of the year looking for funding. Other work at the reservoir has been funded by a patchwork of grants from organizations like the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Colorado River District and Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District, among other partners. Torgler said they may also reach out to federal partners and Routt County as well.
While comfortable saying it will be a multi-million dollar project, Torgler said he didn’t have a specific number to put on the cost right now.
“With inflation and the cost of construction, I don’t know,” Torgler said. “I’m waiting to see the engineer's estimate.”
If Oak Creek can secure the funding needed next year, then work would target the short construction window in the summer of 2025.
Top Photo Caption: The town of Oak Creek has complete phases one and two of work at Sheriff Reservoir, which included installing a new headgate. (Town of Oak Creek/Courtesy)