Johnnie St. Vrain: Concrete ‘slabs’ by Greenway Act As a Power Source
Dear Johnnie St. Vrain: On a Saturday in January, my husband and I walked along the Dickens Farm portion of the St. Vrain Greenway. Just east of the Main Street bridge there is a river access area. On the west side of that area there are two large upright cement slabs with metal doors. Can you use your St. Vrain connections and find out their purpose?
Wondering as we wander
Dear Wonderers: The large concrete “slabs” help pump water out of the river.
The structures are part of the Dickens water rights diversion system, according to Steve Ransweiler, a senior project manager for the city’s Department of Public Works & Natural Resources.
The D-Barn owns one half of the water right and the city owns the other half.
This is a senior water right, filed in the 1800s, which essentially means that the D-Barn has the right to pump water from the creek no matter the flow conditions.
I’ll try to break down how the whole thing works in a way us laypeople can understand.
Before the flood, Ransweiler said that D-Barn would run a hose to the creek and pump water up to irrigate the property. Back then, the trails were mainly on the south side of the river.
After the flood, though, the river moved closer to D-Barn’s property and the main trail is now on the north side. Ransweiler said they didn’t want to have any conflicts between trail users and irrigation equipment, so they built a new system.
Now, a pump trailer acts as the intermediary between the creek and the property. It sucks water from the creek and then pushes it into underground pipes that go up to the property. This system was installed over the last 18 months, Ransweiler said, and this year will be the first that it’s in use. It should benefit those who recreate on the trail, because it eliminates the need to lay a giant hose over the paths.
The trailer needs a power supply, which is where the concrete structures come in. They are waterproofed because they hold electrical components, Ransweiler said, and there are two of them so that D-Barn can divert water in both high and low flow conditions.
This solution may not seem like the best for aesthetics, but if it keeps a hose off the trail, I’ll take it.