Gopher hole causes break in irrigation system

Tabitha Fleming

Heavy rains and a gopher hole left the High Line Canal Co. with lots of repairs after Tuesday night's storms.

According to Supt. Dan Heinrichs, a gopher hole led to problems as water levels rose. The water rushed through the hole, eventually collapsing and leaving a sizeable gap in a ditch bank.

The break occured at one of the many headgates along the ditch. However, the headgate remained in place and did not require repairs. The water poured from the ditch -- which is about 20 feet wide -- onto the tall grasses, leaving them flattened in the aftermath.

Heinrichs pointed out the high water mark, a muddy line along the top of the ditch near the edge of the access road. Even without the break, the ditch was stretched to capacity with the 4 inches of rain reported in that area.

On Wednesday, High Line crews drove along ditches and noted the break, which was just off of Road 8 south of Highway 50. Other problems occured when the ditch overflowed near Road 5. No one was injured by the rushing waters.

"Gopher holes can cause problems because the water rushes through them, cutting away at the ditch," Heinrichs said. "As the water level receded, the water flowing through that hole went faster and faster until it finally collapsed the ditch."

"You can see the high water mark here," he said pointing to his feet as he stood on the top of the ditch bank. "It was as full as it could possibly be without overflowing here."

Water was diverted from the section of the ditch where the crew was repairing. The excess water went into the Apishapa River and will be released back into the ditch when repairs are completed.