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Reservoir Enlargement Near Snowmass Brings Prehistoric Surprises

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Photo courtesy of URS Corp.
The project entailed reconstruction and enlargement of an existing embankment dam and construction of outlet works and new infrastructure.
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2012 Award of Merit

Civil Works/Infrastructure Category

Ziegler Reservoir Enlargement

Snowmass, Colo.

Snowmass Village is home to majestic mountain views, rugged high-country terrain and a busy year-round tourist trade. But to supply water for visitors and residents and to meet future needs it was necessary to perform a complete build-out of the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District's Ziegler Reservoir, which had only one day of reserve water supply.

The project entailed reconstruction and enlargement of an existing embankment dam and construction of outlet works and new infrastructure.

When the reservoir was drained and excavation began, the site took on unexpected significance. While Gould Construction was removing 80,000 yd of dirt to provide a stable base for the reservoir, one of the equipment operators came across a giant bone that launched the world's largest high-elevation fossil discovery.

Subsequently, thousands of mammoth, mastodon and other prehistoric animal bones were discovered, and the carefully designed dam project suddenly became a world-class paleontological site. While the scientific world watched, work on the reservoir halted and the bones were carefully removed. When work resumed, the project turned into a race against time and the elements.

Key Players

Owner: Snowmass Water and Sanitation District, Snowmass Village, Colo.

Architect: WW Wheeler and Associates, Englewood, Colo.

General Contractor: Gould Construction, Glenwood Springs, Colo.

Civil & Structural Engineer: URS Corp., Denver

Entry submitted by URS Corp.

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