Rerouting flood-damaged Left Hand Creek to return water to farms and reservoirs

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. - Crews in Northern Colorado are racing against time to find a way to route millions of gallons of irrigation water to farms after the normal rivers and streams were damaged in September's floods.

The floods destroyed or badly damaged 12 of the head gates along Left Hand Creek. Those gates were used to divert water into smaller canals and out to farms for irrigation or reservoirs for drinking.

"All five of our reservoirs are offline, meaning we cannot get water into the reservoirs," Left Hand Ditch Company Vice President Terry Plummer says.

In some places, the old creek bed is now dry and the water is flowing along a new path.

If it doesn't get diverted back into the original channel, Plummer says even the repaired gates can't be used.

"There is no other option here," he said. "It has to be repaired. This is people's livelihood."

The price of repair is estimated at $3.25 million.

So far, the Williamson Canal is nearly complete.

"We put the river back in its bed, rebuilt the banks," Plummer said.

Tim Foster lives in the area and says the progress to date is remarkable.

"Everybody we talked to came and helped," Foster said.

But as old man winter sets in, the race is on to help meet a deadline of April 1.

"We'll work right through the weather as long as it's not a blizzard," Plummer said.