Gravel pit plan causes concern in Rifle | AspenTimes.com

Gravel pit plan causes concern in Rifle

Heidi Rice
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colo. ” 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.

The Rifle City Council discussed the issue for more than three hours at its Oct. 3 meeting; the public hearing portion of the application was continued until the Nov. 7 council meeting, but the matter is back on the council’s agenda Wednesday.

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. City officials fear the operation could shift the flow of the river away from Rifle’s water intake.

“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.

In addition to the water intake issue, the council voiced concerns at its last meeting about potential impacts on wildlife, views and the structural integrity of the bridge that crosses the river.

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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.