San-Juan-River-in-Pagosa-Springs-CO-DaveyWhitewater wave structures have gained popularity in urban areas where recreation minded populations want easy access to a “park and play” feature. There are specific structural forms that can be constructed in the bed of the river, to produce surf-able waves on the surface of the river. As avid boaters know, a particular wave feature will often have a certain range of river flow, when the wave form is optimized. Riverbend has designed a number of wave forming structures, and we have repaired/modified several older structures built by others. The science and art of building wave-inducing structures is not well documented in the literature. Riverbend’s hydraulic engineers have learned through experience how to design and then how to adjust the performance of a particular structure. We have also performed physical model testing of our designs to further refine our understanding of how the hydraulics change with the rise and fall of the river’s flow. Scroll below or use the menu to the right to read more about our whitewater boating projects.

San Juan River in Pagosa Springs, CO

The San Juan River Improvement project included master planning, design, and construction oversight. Improvements included five whitewater waves (with fish passage), two boat ramps, three irrigation diversions, many in-stream fish habitat structures, rehabilitation of two fishing ponds, pedestrian trail extension and connections to public restrooms and parking. The scope of work also includes floodplain analysis of several river sections in preparation for FEMA revisions, design and installation of a shallow groundwater pumping system for irrigation supply, many public meetings and Town Council presentations, grant writing and grant application presentations, and other related consulting.

Related News

Pagosa Sun – 20 Feb 2014

“The white water river feature behind Town Hall receives a little touch-up work Tuesday morning before crews move down to a spot in the San Juan near Yamaguchi Park where they began building the fifth such structure. Chris Pitcher from Riverbend Engineering designed the features and supervises the work while his uncle, Davey Pitcher from Wolf Creek Ski Area, donates the equipment and labor. …”

Pagosa Sun – 3 June 2010

“On Tuesday, the Pagosa Springs Town Council heard a recommendation from the town’s Parks and Recreation Department to expand whitewater features in the San Juan river through town from four to nine. …”

Pagosa Sun – 26 March 2009

“A wonderful transformation has occurred in downtown Pagosa Springs over the last couple of weeks, and it’s time to officially thank the various talented individuals and generous citizens who made our new river improvement project such an apparent success.

Through the efforts of these folks a new whitewater feature, as yet unnamed, has been created, and fish habitat and fisherman’s access have been enhanced.

Riverbend Engineering of Pagosa Springs, represented by Chris Philips, Chris Pitcher and Brad Meyer, did the design work, set up the necessary meetings with the various stakeholders, coordinated the construction, and oversaw two weeks of intensive work. Their professionalism and thoroughness made a complex process as smooth and natural as the flow of snow-melt over the new drop. …”


Animas River Penny Lane Dam in Farmington, NM

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Riverbend prepared a Feasibility Analysis Report for Low Head Dam Modifications to the Animas Pump Station Diversion on the Animas River at Penny Lane Dam in August of 2013. This low head dam was constructed in 1984 to allow for diversion of water from the Animas River for the public water supply of the City of Farmington. Water taken out of the river is pumped up to Lake Farmington, a raw water storage facility located on a hilltop to the north. Since its construction the dam and diversion facilities had met the project goals for water diversion, but had created the un-intended consequence of preventing fish passage and the un-desirable effect of dangerous hydraulic conditions for boats to float through (resulting in two deaths, in 2005 and 2011). Riverbend conducted a feasibility study which included design alternatives to improve fish passage conditions, and to improve boater safety conditions, as well as building a whitewater wave feature at this location. Final design and environmental documentation were completed in 2015, and construction took place October 2016 – January 2017.  Now on the Animas  River fish can travel up and downstream, and the new waves provide two options (two degrees of difficulty) for fun and safe boating from the way from Colorado/ New Mexico state line all the way to Kirtland.

15 March 2017: KOB News 4 Coverage of the newly modified Penny Lane Dam/ Whitewater Park in Farmington, NM



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