1523 County Road 243
Durango, CO 81301
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Lemon Dam is the principal feature of the Florida Project, which is a participating project of the Colorado River Storage Project. The dam is located in southwestern Colorado on the Florida River, approximately 14 miles northeast of Durango in La Plata County. Floodwaters of the Florida River are stored in the reservoir formed by the dam, and regulated releases can provide supplemental irrigation water for 19,450 acres. Water is released form the reservoir as needed and conveyed in the natural river channel to the heads of the various downstream canals and ditches that divert the flow and distribute the water to project lands. In addition to the construction of Lemon Dam, Bureau of Reclamation work included rebuilding the Florida farmers Diversion Dam, enlarging 3.9 miles of the Florida Farmers Ditch to its bifurcation with the Florida Canal, enlarging 1.8 miles of the Florida Canal, and building a new lateral system to serve about 3,360 acres of land on the southeast portion of Florida Mesa. Project funds were advanced to the Florida Water Conservancy District to rehabilitate, enlarge, and extend the portions of the Florida Farmers Ditch and Florida Canal distribution systems that serve remaining lands on Florida Mesa. The 1,190 acres of project land located in the Florida River Valley will continue to be served by numerous small ditches without the expenditure of project funds.
Lemon Dam is a zoned earthfill structure with a structural height of 284 feet and a crest length of 1,360 feet. The dam embankment has a maximum base width of 1,170 feet, a crest width of 30 feet, and contains a volume of 3,042,000 cubic yards of earth and rock materials. The spillway is on the right abutment of the dam and consists of an approach channel, concrete inlet structure, concrete ogee crest section, open concrete chute, concrete stilling basin, and outlet channel discharging into the Florida River. The design capacity of the spillway is 9,600 cubic feet per second. The outlet works is also in the right abutment of the dam and consists of an approach channel, a concrete intake structure, and a concrete-lined tunnel with gate chamber for two 2.5-foot-square high pressure gates. The 9-foot horseshoe-shaped tunnel has a design capacity of 910 cubic feet per second. Lemon Reservoir is approximately 0.5 mile wide and 3 miles long with a surface area of 622 acres. The total capacity is 40,146 acre-feet, of which 39,030 acre-feet are active conservation.
Major rehabilitation of the Florida Farmers Diversion Dam was conducted in 1962-63. This included construction of an earthfill section for the diversion dam approximately 500 feet long at the crest, and construction of an overflow weir, headworks, sluiceway, wingwall, and fish screens.
During the same construction period, the Florida Farmers Ditch was enlarged and relocated along 3.9 miles, and Florida Canal was enlarged and relocated over 1.8 miles. The first irrigation water was delivered in 1964.
Lemon reservoir benefits include irrigation, recreation, and flood control. Irrigated lands are used largely for the support of livestock enterprises. Climatically adaptable crops such as small grains, alfalfa, pasture, and corn are the principal products. Recreation facilities at Lemon Reservoir were constructed by the National Park Service and are operated by the Forest Service. Flood control benefits result from reduced snowmelt flooding due to the operation of Lemon Reservoir.