Supply Irrigating Ditch Diversion Structure

fish passage, recreation
The supply ditch diversion combines fish passage and recreation into a single structure

During the September 2013 flooding every user of the St. Vrain Creek was impacted including agricultural, municipal, commercial, and recreational users. On top of impacts to the users of the St. Vrain the environmental impacts of the flood have been far reaching with the decimation of riparian habitat and severe impacts to the fishery. As the users reconstruct their critical infrastructure there is a new opportunity to create infrastructure that achieves the goals for the owner while also providing benefits for other users and the environment.

S2o is proud to be a part of this process and are implementing a design process that benefits all users and the environment in our projects. The diverse backgrounds of our team members bring expertise in whitewater park design, dam design, and river restoration design that shines in the design of multipurpose projects that benefit many interests. One example of a multipurpose project being implemented on the St. Vrain Creek is the Supply Irrigating Ditch Company diversion structure. Historically, the structure was an at grade concrete dam that was barely noticeable in the creek unless you looked close. During the flood significant erosion occurred downstream of the structure degrading the channel by up to three feet. S2o was hired by the ditch company to design a diversion dam that met their needs and benefited other users of the St. Varin Creek.

The ditch company used a temporary diversion structure for the 2014 irrigation season. The temporary structure was constructed of concrete barriers, concrete rubble, and anything else the ditch company could easily use to get water into their ditch. The temporary structure was not very effective at diverting water and was a significant hazard to any in stream user of the St. Vrain Creek. The hazards created by this temporary structure made the reconstruction of the diversion dam a high priority for safety as well as the ditch company’s need to divert water in 2015.

With this significant amount of degradation an at grade structure was not going to be possible for the rebuilt diversion structure. The first step in the design process was to determine the crest elevation of the structure. The crest elevation of the structure was dictated by the design criteria of being able to divert the allocated water down the ditch inlet. The necessary crest elevation combined with the degradation of the channel lead to an elevation drop of two feet across the structure. To create a structure that would address environmental concerns of fish passage and create a recreational experience a grouted rock ramp structure with a notch for fish passage at low flow was designed. Also, to facilitate fish passage the grouting of the structure will not go to the tops of the rocks allowing paths for fish to swim through the interstitial spaces in the structure. The hydraulic conditions across the grouted rock ramp and in the tail water pool were designed in the same manner as a whitewater park structure. This will allow the water that is not diverted down the ditch inlet to be enjoyed by recreational users. The designed structure will meet all of the project requirements by diverting the allocated water down the ditch, allowing fish passage, and providing recreational opportunities.

This project is a great example of a multipurpose structure that achieves the goals of the owner while also providing for other users. In this case the owner’s agricultural, municipal, and commercial interests are maintained with a structure that benefits recreational users and the environment.

Construction of the structure is scheduled to begin in the near future and the structure will be completed by May 1, 2015. Upon completion a highly visible structure will be in the forefront for multipurpose projects as the St. Vrain and other nearby watersheds recover from the 2013 floods. S2o is leading the way with well-coordinated multipurpose projects.

diversion recreation fish passage
The diversion structure also creates a fun surfing and tubing wave.

River Restoration and Resiliency Post-Flood

river restoration, fish habitat
St. Vrain Stream Restoration Project

River restoration is a challenge–particularly in an urban environment where the river is highly impacted and the river banks are often highly developed.  Project goals and objectives must be carefully stated and  project  constraints and limitations must be carefully defined and evaluated.  S2o has begun work on a $2.5 million restoration of the St. Vrain river following the worst flood in recorded history for this valley.  The starting point of this project is the most developed, confined, and, from a design standpoint, challenging, reaches in the river.  The goal of the project?  To minimize flood impacts and increase resiliency in the river by recreating a healthy river- and eco-system.

What is a healthy river and eco-system:  one good way to understand what a healthy, resilient river looks like is to understand what a typical unhealthy river looks like.  Fortunately, we have, or had, this type of area in Town located downstream of the 5th Avenue Bridge on the North Fork of the St. Vrain.  This area was a great example of a typical urban and highly impacted river before the flood.  In this area human development has severely encroached on the river to the point where all of the flow is confined between two steep banks.  This was done by landowners literally filling the floodplain with earth to build houses and streets that were positioned right along both sides of the main channel with very little breadth left for expansion during a flood event.  In order to handle moderate flooding events the people who built on both sides of the river built higher walls with fill at higher elevations so that more water translated to more depth.  This higher depth translated to higher velocities during flood events, and a channel that was largely denuded of habitat or complexity due to scour and excavation.  The North St. Vrain in this reach had become a square-bottomed ditch.

By comparison, a healthier river is one in which the river is a complex system with a defined low-flow channel, a defined river channel, some sinuosity, and room to expand into a floodplain.  The floodplain is a riparian area that typically includes a wealth of native trees and plants on a low bench near the river.  As the river rises, energy is diffused into this area which is important.  There are also a variety of species that thrive in this ecosystem and rely on regular flooding.  Each of these components plays a role in healthy river function.

In the area downstream of 5th avenue, which is an area that can be viewed in the coming weeks as it is developed.  You will see that  S2o has designed just such a multistage river and are building it now.  In this instance the multi-stage river is wedged within a fairly tight space yet it will provide each of these components.  The process of designing and implementing this project included:

  1. a) An evaluation of the watershed at varying reach scales to define priorities and objectives for this particular reach within the context of the entire river system.
  2. b) A conceptual design process in which varying solutions to meet these objectives were defined and evaluated until an acceptable design was reached (this process included a phase of public process which all of the town was invited to and invited to pose both questions and comments).
  3. c) A computer modeling phase in which extensive floodplain modeling was completed to ensure that no one’s home or property was negatively impacted by the project and that velocities and depths met design objectives.
  4. d) Several stages of design including grading, wall plans, design of the river, design of the habitat, and planting plans.  As a part of this process the project received all required permits to verify that these plans met all the regulatory requirements for doing this work in a river in Colorado.

One of our concerns is about losing trees and riparian habitat along the river.  The design team took all care possible to preserve as much plant life as possible and is replanting extensively to replace and improve the trees and riparian habitat lost.  The good and bad news is that, over the last 50-100 years, the confined and unhealthy river has still seen tree growth and riparian growth along its banks.  Many of these trees and plants are rooted in the same fill used to encroach upon the river years ago.  In order to remove this fill and open the river up to create a healthy river system, these trees and plants need to be removed. Without this, we make only band-aid improvements that do not protect the Town nor improve stream health. We will replant native trees (over 10,000 trees or plants are being planted) as part of this project, once a healthy river system has been re-created.  Please know that tree removal is not done lightly, but that extensive survey, design, computer modeling, and analysis was been completed prior to making these choices.  Additionally, an arborist has been consulted when in doubt about individual trees and choices are then made based on this information.

Additionally, S2o has worked with consultants to implement fish habitat in microsystems along the river.  The larger pool/riffle sequence has been further modified with imported boulders and superficial grading to create pools, riffles and velocity barriers in the river.  S2o has also added woody debris and classic fish habitat structures such as bendway weirs, j-hooks, cross-veins, and deflectors to further increase the habitat functionality of the project.

The completed river will have less flood risk, be more resilient, will decrease velocities and stress on the river, and will provide a thriving eco-system for both in-stream and riparian habitat.  This is a project that meets and exceeds the goals laid out in Lyons Long Range Recovery Process and one that provides us with a Town that will better endure the next flood.

Animas River Days’ 2015 festival makes a big splash

ReBlogged from the Durango Herald

http://www.durangoherald.com/article/20150530/NEWS01/150539968

Helter Smelter

Mike Tavares of Richmond, Virginia, paddled into a crashing wave between competitions during Animas River Days at the Santa Rita whitewater park Saturday in Durango.

Tavares, however, wasn’t in a boat; he was on a stand-up paddleboard.

“The water level is great this year,” he said. “It’s my first time surfing and paddling on the Animas, so I’m super-stoked.”

SUPs, as they’re called, are becoming a more common sight, and this year’s long-standing river festival – started by local paddler Nancy Wiley in 1982 – is no different. There are three new events dedicated to the SUPs – more than ever before.

Festival spokesperson Hope Tyler said there are several new aspects this year all based around the new vibe that Santa Rita is taking on, in and out of the water.

“Well, there’s the new park,” she said of the whitewater park that opened last year. “We’re one of the few parks that has eight features.”

On dry land, the hardscaping is complete. Now, the landscaping begins.

“This is what you’re going to see for upcoming events,” Tyler said.

Local rivers have spiked as snow continues to melt in the high country, coupled with good amounts of precipitation the region has received late in the year. One of the warmer days of the spring, the brown water carried logs and debris downstream picked up by the swell. Tyler said bets were going around the festival on what Saturday’s high water would be.

“We just hit 2,000 this morning,” she said. “People are excited.”

The competitions were so many, one would end, and another would begin – kayaking slaloms, SUP slaloms, SUP and boatercross. Every so often, rafts fully loaded would charge through the waves. There were dog tricks and film screenings. On Saturday night, an evening freestyle kayak competition was to be held.

On Sunday, the third day of the festival, there will be clinics all day offered by 4 Corners Riversports.

Animas River Days events coordinator Stacy Falk said competitors came from all corners of the globe.

“Last year, we had 40; this year, we have 100,” she said. “And they’re from England, France, New Zealand.”

Several professional athletes came specifically to represent SUP, spearheaded by whitewater instructors Anna and Drew Fisher of Surf the San Juans.

“The pros that are here are here because of them,” Falk said.

Ross Montandon of Noddingham, England, is on a four-month U.S. tour kayaking with his team. After the kayak slalom races, he stepped away to steal a look at the river.

“It’s like a traveling circus,” he said about his tour. In Durango for the first time, Montandon said the beauty of the West is the access.

Tyler said the 3,000 to 4,000 people that line the river for the annual river parade bear testimony.

Falk, who called Saturday “the most insane day of her life,” said event officials worked hard to make the festival stand out.

“If we want to get a sponsor like those big events that we want to compete with have, we need to prove that we can get people here, and we proved that (Saturday),” she said.

Animas River Days Recap

ReBlogged from:  http://badfishsup.com/03/animas-river-days-recap/

Team Rider Brittany Parker checked in with this recap of the Animas River Days event last weekend in Durango, Colorado. Photos by Heather Jackson.

Durango was a pleasant surprise for the Badfish crew. We had no idea how much the South-West Colorado college town was stoked on stand up paddling and river surfing. Durango is arguably the best paddling community in the State of Colorado, with a long history of whitewater paddling, so it was easy for us to feel at home at the Animas River Days at the Santa Rita Park.

To kick off the event team athletes Natali Zollinger and Brittany Parker organized a two day downriver and river surfing clinic hosted by the local paddling shop 4Corners Riversports. They worked on pivot turns, reading water, paddling technique, footwork, and had students paddling into the wave standing up by day two!

river surfing, whitewater, durango, colorado, animas, SUP, paddleboard

Saturday was jam packed with events and there wasn’t one podium without a team paddler on it. The beer was flowing from the Ska brewing tent and the crowd lined the bank waiting for the show to begin. Everyone loves carnage and the ‘Last Paddler Standing’ competition, promises it. Beginning at the top of the whitewater park the paddler has to make it through a series of substantial holes without falling off their board, otherwise it’s immediate disqualification. The crowd was roaring, rooting for most of us to fall, but Mike T. and Brittany Parker (on their 9’0” MVP) held their own placing in the top three.

Although, surf comps aren’t the norm for whitewater events, Durango is setting the stage for river surfing to become a competitive addition to event schedules. The guys were in their element and out to win. Between Zack Hughes spinning 540’s, Spencer Lacy’s pop shuv-its, and Mike Tavares’ hard carves they swept the podium.

river surfer, surfing, whitewater, animas, durango, colorado, badfish, SUP, paddleboard

river surfing, river surfer, badfish SUP, paddleboarding, animas, durango, colorado

We loved the Animas River Days but what really made an impression on us was the surf sessions outside of the competition. The local surfers are out there every day charging and encouraging others to try. They are true examples of what we all love about this community and the sport. We will be back next year! -Brittany Parker

S2o featured on NPR for the Design of the London Olympic Channel

National Public Radio visits S2o’s offices to learn more about S2o’s role as the designer of the London Olympic Whitewater slalom venue for 2012.  This profile explores the challenges and design process that led to this industry leading whitewater park.

http://www.kunc.org/post/rocky-mountain-whitewater-takes-center-stage-london-olympics

S2o Featured for their Design Work on London 2012

http://kdvr.com/2012/07/16/olympic-kayaker-from-colorado-designs-london-kayak-course/

LYONS, Colo- You don’t have to be a Colorado resident for very long to figure out the “river folk.” They are the people who live for water.

The people who like to spend their free time paddling any type of boat in the water. They are also the same people who find a way to work less and play more.

The people always smiling, happy and … tan. As Scott Shipley explains it, “There really is a DNA to river people.”

Shipley is a perfect specimen. He was a three time Olympic kayaker. He was ranked number one for eight consecutive years, a ten time national champion. He met his wife on the water who raced on the German team. And water is still a big part of Shipley’s life.

“We design fun. More often than you realize in Colorado, when you’re in an inner tube floating down a rapid, it’s probably something built by our company or a company like ours.”

The Lyons resident is the founder and owner of S2O design.

“I studied engineering at Georgia Tech, got into ship design. Kind of very last minute, I saw an article about a guy that did river design and thought gosh I want to get into doing whitewater parks.”

When Scott is out of the water, he is wading through computer models and blueprints, including the biggest project of all, the 2012 Olympic course.

“To be a part of the design team on that London park was literally a dream come true. I so much wanted stay part of that Olympic movement.”

Part of the Olympic design includes giant Lego like blocks, called RapidBlocs that create obstacles and whitewater just like a natural boulder would. Brand new technology, invented by Scott and his British partner.

In London the Lee Valley Whitewater Center outside of London is already in use.

“The feedback we’re getting is, ‘Oh my gosh! This is what we dreamed of,’ and we’re hearing that from the Slovakians, the French, the British, it’s not just the U.S. Team saying it’s the crème de la crème of white water parks.”

All those hours playing in the water are definitely paying off.

“The most rewarding thing by far for me, because I did live that Olympic life for 20 years, to go back to an Olympics and watch it on a channel we designed. Watch it on a channel we built.”

 

S2o’s Lead Designer Profiled by ICF after designing the London Olympic Course

Scott Shipley brings a varied background to the table. A three time Olympian (’92, ’96, ’00) and holder of four world titles, Shipley is among the best-known American kayakers in the world today. Having retired from elite competition Shipley went back to school to earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Shipley’s combined expertise in both Whitewater and Engineering Design has made him the go-to designer for some of the world’s most demanding whitewater design projects. He has been credited with driving innovation in the whitewater park industry by pushing the design envelope; his achievements in whitewater course design may just supersede his world titles and his accolade of America’s best ever slalom kayaker.

Shipley has also been involved in the design of the Whitewater Package Course—the world’s first purpose-built club training and instructional center as well as the Africa Club-House Project—an unprecedented design project tasked with bringing secure clubhouses for sports of all kinds, including kayaking, to Africa. His company S2o Designs designed the features in the Lee Valley White Water Center, the Canoe Slalom venue for this summer’s Olympic Games in London.

(Link to Read More)