After the Flood at Government Spring

March 2016 Government Spring Repair
After the Little Bear Fire and flooding events along the Rio Bonito, Michael McGee (BLM Roswell Hydrologist) began making plans to replace the washed out plywood weir placed by the FSCSP. Several designs were considered, but plans changed as the increasing rains continued to flood the Government Spring site and we realized that the spring pool needed better protection from the Rio Bonito in flood conditions. A proper stainless steel "V" notch weir plate was obtained and the site was carefully monitored during various flood events. Far upstream in Ruidoso, Bonito Lake was also significantly silted to the point that it was no longer useful for flood control and would take several years to dredge out the extra silt. In the meantime, Government Spring was carefully "dug out" and began to flow again. But several times during our visits to the spring we observed the muddy Rio Bonito overflowing the shallow bank between the spring and the Rio. These photos from Michael McGee show the progress on the rebuilding during March, 2016.  

The temporary area next to the tarp-covered 4 x 8 plywood is new sand that was placed to raise the level between the spring pool and the Rio Bonito channel to the left just out of this photo.

Michael is waiting for the bank to stabilize to see where to make the final left edge of the Government Spring channel.

The next task will be to seed and plant willow poles on the sand bank that is next to the plywood that is holding the sand back out of the spring channel.
The disturbed soil surface will eventually be covered with grass and live willows. We will monitor the 2016 spring water flows and levels to determine where and when the new stainless v notch control can be placed.
A portable welder will be used to fabricate a proper steel structure to both support a staff gauge in the spring pool and the future location of the stainless V-notch.
During March 2016 the water was very high and the v notch cannot be installed right now with the water this high. Michael plans to install a staff gauge at the site for monitoring water levels at the spring.


The photos below show the results of the 2012 flooding:

At 8:00 pm on July 9, 2012, the Rio Bonito experienced a flash flood at the HQ building, raising the water level by 4-5 feet. The muddy ash turned the Rio black.
Looking South, Government Spring is just off the left side of this picture. The riparian area just to the N of Hwy 380 caught much of the mud "slurry" from the flood.
The plywood weir was covered by a foot of the black mud from the Rio flood, completely stopping the Government Spring flow.
The top of the 2x8 used as a bridge over the spring pool was buried under an inch or more of mud. The scale now extends under about a foot of mud.
On New Year's eve, 2012, Lee and Sylvie took this picture of the spring area showing some of the work in progress to install a new weir.
"If it were bigger, you could ice skate on it" reported Lee.

The graph on the right is a record of the flow rate from a high flow in September, 2008 to low flow in April, 2012. The peaks correlate with flows at Turtle Junction in Snowy River. More information on the measurements at Government Spring can be found



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