Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Ice jam problems continue


December 19, 2018

Star photo by Stephanie Thompson

This is the first drop structure that diverts the water into Killdeer Wetlands area. The ice jam appears to start after the structure.

Questions continue to arise regarding the ice jam near Jamestown that's impacting a few Jamestown residents.

Finger pointing and claims that the U-drop diverting water into the Killdeer Wetlands in the Green River is to blame have also started.

Both, representatives from the city of Green River and Sweetwater County have started to look into the issue.

Jamestown residents Todd and Susie Heslep whose home is being threatened because of the jam have been watching the jam closely to see if there are any changes.

"(The) situation is about the same," Todd said Tuesday morning. "We have continued pumping water. We are looking into a barrier system."

Todd said he is frustrated because he has made several phone calls and hasn't received any calls back from officials about the ice jam.

As for blowing up the ice jam to stop the flooding and ice from building up on his property, Todd said he thinks the problem is only going to get worse because it's the beginning of winter.

"We feel smaller explosives or equipment usage to break up the ice jam from the bank would not harm the river and environment," Todd said.

"We need to get this jam moving as it only continues backing up," he said.

At the Sweetwater County Commissioners meeting Tuesday morning, Sweetwater County Emergency Management Agency director Judy Roderick told the commissioners blowing up the ice jam would do more harm than good.

She said the Heslep house is safe, it's just the property and sewer system that's under water.

She said years ago they used to blast out the ice jams, but that has been known to cause damage to houses, cars and anything else in the path of a huge chunk of ice hitting.

Plus, if the blast doesn't get rid of the jam it will actually make it tighter.

Roderick said they have to be concerned about other drop structures, bridges, the Joint Powers Water Board intake and the Bridger Power intake, which are all downstream. Due to these liability issues, Roderick doesn't think blowing up the jam is an option.

Even if they obtained permission from the Army Corps of Engineers, the liability of having something happen downstream is just too much.

"We're hoping nature will take its course," Roderick said.

She's hopeful that will happen soon. She's already noticed the water level decreasing substantially in the Sweetwater County Park near Jamestown.

County public works director Gene Legerski said he and Green River public works director Mark Westenskow have been watching the jam and looking at the U-drop.

He said the weather is supposed to warm up and the ice jam will take care of itself.

Westenskow said he can complete a lot of research on ice, but he's not an expert.

"We are looking at the drop structure," Westenskow said.

They are examining the whole structure, how it operates and evaluating the structure as a whole. Westenskow said he has pulled all of the plans for the structure to review, however, looking at the actual structure can't take place until all of the ice surrounding it is gone.

Westenskow said ice does flow downstream and catches on something, then more ice catches onto the first ice, which creates a jam.

What surprised him was at what time of the year the ice jam is taking place. It usually happens in the spring.

"A petition will be circulating to the residents of Jamestown, as well as Green River residents asking the for the drop structure to be removed," Todd said. "It not only is a huge contributor to the ice jams, but it's also a safety hazard for recreational use."


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