Sanitary Sewer River Crossing Repairs


Emphasizing critical infrastructure improvements and continued hazard mitigation, the Upper Thompson Sanitation District (UTSD) is preparing to perform a multi-site sanitary sewer river crossing project within major river basins throughout the Estes Valley.  Construction will begin this week and the work will replace six aged high priority sanitary sewer river crossings with new, concrete-reinforced crossings. 

Three repair sites are located in and along the Fall River drainage with two sewer crossings adjacent to Fish Hatchery Road, and one sewer crossing near Pine Haven resort.  Two river crossing repair sites in the Big Thompson River drainage include a 24-inch sewer main, located near the Estes Park Visitor Center, and another repair site in the Lower Broadview area.  The final stream crossing repair site is situated within the Scott Ponds open space in Carriage Hills, just north of Lakeshore Drive.

Chris Bieker, UTSD District Manager, notes, “The District maintains and operates over 60 sanitary sewer river crossings throughout the Estes Valley, many of which are over 40 years old.  Of the 95-plus miles of sewer main in the UTSD collection system, over 10,000 feet are river crossings – a substantial amount, considering the small size of our District.  Comprehensive and proactive maintenance and inspection are ever-critical components of UTSD’s daily operations to ensure quality and safe function of our collection system, especially the river crossings.”

According to Bieker, “A typical sanitary sewer river crossing consists of epoxy-lined ductile iron pipe, encased in rebar-reinforced concrete from manhole to manhole, that crosses a creek or river at or under the stream bed.  Rip-rap (rock) is also placed around the encased pipe and stream banks for added resiliency.”

Many of the existing river crossings in the UTSD collection system are original installations from the 1970’s and do not meet current District rules and regulations.  “These older crossings often consist of mortar-lined ductile pipe that breaks down in the presence of certain sewer gasses.  Our inspection efforts have certainly shown this to be the case within the collection system,” said Bieker.

In the flood of 2013, the District suffered catastrophic losses to several miles of sanitary sewer collection system.  Though the six sites in the UTSD river crossing project were not destroyed, enough damage, erosion, and exposure occurred to justify a high-risk allocation and a plan for rehabilitative work was developed. 

According to Bieker, “Both Federal and State funding agencies acknowledge the river crossing sites as hazards requiring mitigation to protect the health of both the public and pristine environment of the Estes Valley.  Those agencies have collectively awarded grants to the project.”

The District expects minimal traffic impacts around the river crossing sites, though there may be temporary roadway lane shifts or detours during installation of some sewer bypass pumping systems.  Pedestrians can expect temporary public trail detours or closures near the Fall River, Scott Ponds, and Estes Park Visitor Center sites.

“UTSD is looking forward to the completion of this crucial project, one in a long line of vital future improvements,” said Bieker.  “The District sincerely appreciates our customer’s patience, and the entire Estes Park community for their continued support as we undertake these infrastructure rehabilitation activities”

More information may be found at the District’s website at, or by contacting Chris Bieker at 970-586-4544 or