The US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) announced that it has awarded a contract of approximately US$17.6M to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe's Weeminuche Construction Authority (WCA) of Towaoc, Colorado, for completion of construction of the Ridges Basin inlet conduit.

When completed, the inlet conduit, a core feature of the Animas-La Plata hydro project, will carry Animas river water from the Durango pumping plant to lake Nighthorse.

The primary features to be constructed under the inlet conduit contract award include construction of a 72-inch (183cm) buried steel pipeline that will convey project water 3.4km from the pumping plant to the reservoir, as well as construction of the vents and stilling structures that will regulate the flow of the water being pumped from the Animas River to the reservoir.

The inlet conduit will be buried in a trench at a normal depth of around 2m below the ground and backfilled so that upon completion of the construction, the terrain can be re-vegetated. When completed, the conduit will terminate on the reservoir side of the ridge with a stilling structure from which the flow will continue to the reservoir.

The route of the conduit from the pumping plant to the reservoir will travel southerly from the pumping plant, turn southwest to cross CR 211 and Bodo Draw before turning to the west to continue to lake Nighthorse.

USBR anticipates that work on this inlet conduit contract to be completed in 2009, with Commissioner Robert W. Johnson saying that construction of the Animas-La Plata project now stands at approximately 44% complete.