The new dam at the outlet of Lake San Cristobal is going to solve problems that Lake City residents have dealt with for over one hundred and thirty years. In the spring with the snow pack run off the lake was very often dangerously high. In the fall and especially years like this with very little snow pack in the mountains above us the lake would become too low. In the past with little activity around the lake this high and low levels of the lake could be accepted and overlooked. With more recreational activity and homes and boat docks being built it has become more of a problem. The new dam will enable the lake to be maintained at a constant level year around.
The new dam is a rather complicated device that can be raised and lowered. This will be accomplished with air pressure filling heavy duty rubber bladders raising and lowering steel plates inside the dam. Along with the concrete and steel dam a rather large control room will be built underground where air compressors, electric motors and controls will be housed. This is all being accomplished with very little if any visual impact on the beauty of the lake. It should not interfere with many people’s favorite place to fish where the lake rushes into the river.
The fact that the level of our lake will remain constant enabling boats to be launched and loaded at the boat dock, the shoreline to remain useable, floating boat docks to remain stable all summer and fall and the lake to remain full and beautiful year around, these are all just bonuses. The real purpose of the dam is to capture and hold water for several government entities. Lake City, Hinsdale County and The Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District will all benefit from the additional water that will be stored with the new dam. The dam will enable the lake to hold three feet of water that was lost in the past when the runoff was over.
Lake City’s municipal water supply could have been in jeopardy if senior water rights were to be called downstream in severely dry years. The water stored in the lake and owned by Lake City removes this danger. Hinsdale County now will have water available for augmentation of new wells for future growth. The Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District will have water available to sell downstream in emergency situations. All three agencies have worked hard to bring this water storage facility into reality and they all share equally in the ownership of the additional water in the lake.
This project is truly a win win situation for everyone involved. Our citizens and guest have a more beautiful useable lake, Lake City’s water is secure, Hinsdale County has water for growth and water is available for emergency use downstream. Seldom is a project of this magnitude beneficial to everyone but this one truly is a blessing for all involved.