OMAHA, Neb. – To meet water supply requirements in the Denver area, two of the three Denver-area reservoirs operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District will begin making small water releases today.
Reservoir releases have been held to zero since September 12, due to the recent flooding along the South Platte River in Colorado.
The reservoirs beginning releases today are Bear Creek and Cherry Creek Dams. Chatfield Lake remains 5.5 feet below the base of the flood control pool and no releases are scheduled.
Releases from Bear Creek Dam will be 250 cubic feet per second (cfs) and releases from Cherry Creek Dam will be 40 cfs, both beginning today. The Corps is monitoring these releases, which will be diverted from the South Platte River to avoid downstream flooding. Over the next several days, coordination with the State of Colorado will continue, and it is likely releases will be gradually increased in order to evacuate flood control storage from these reservoirs.
Pool elevation data for these and other Corps-operated dams can be tracked online at http://www.nwd-mr.usace.army.mil/rcc/plots/plots.html#omaha_plots and are updated hourly.
Bear Creek Lake, located on Bear Creek Dam on the southwest edge of suburban Lakewood, Colo., continues to receive inflows from the ongoing rainfall and runoff. At 4 a.m., Sept. 15, the reservoir pool elevation surpassed its previous record elevation of 5587.1 feet, which occurred in 1995. The reservoir pool elevation at midnight, Sept. 16, was 5593.2 feet.
The spillway crest of Bear Creek Dam is 5667 feet. The flood control pool begins at 5558 feet and is currently 24 percent occupied. Total flood control storage is 28,514 acre-feet. Bear Creek Dam is located on Bear Creek, which is a tributary to the South Platte River.
In accordance with standard dam safety protocols for record pool levels, the Corps is conducting 24-hour surveillance of the Bear Creek Dam and project infrastructure. No significant dam safety issues have been identified and the project is performing as expected. The parks and roads surrounding Bear Creek have been closed to ensure the safety of workers and the public.
A large system of storms passed through the Cherry Creek basin Saturday afternoon. Pool elevations at Cherry Creek Lake, located on Cherry Creek Dam near Aurora, Colo., have risen and begun to occupy the flood control pool. The reservoir pool elevation at midnight, Sept. 16, was 5552.82 feet. However more than 95 percent of the flood control pool remains available for runoff storage.
The flood control pool is 5550.0 feet to 5598 feet with a spillway elevation of 5610.6 feet. Total flood control storage is 79,322 acre-feet. Cherry Creek Dam is located on Cherry Creek which is a tributary to the South Platte River. The record pool elevation at Cherry Creek was 5565.8 feet in 1973. Current pools are well within past performance history and the project is performing as expected.
Other Corps Response
The State of Colorado requested technical assistance for the city of Longmont, Colo., after St. Vrain Creek jumped from its original channel. Corps personnel helped to identify a location to redirect flow back into its original channel.
There are 46 personnel supporting the Omaha District emergency operations center in response to the flooding in Colorado. Omaha District emergency management and engineers are in contact with the State of Colorado and continue to monitor conditions across the state.
Residents along the South Platte River downstream from Denver should monitor flood forecasts from the National Weather Service and make preparations to minimize damages from high river levels. Flood forecasts on the South Platte River in Colorado are available on the National Weather Service Missouri Basin River Forecasting Center website at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/mbrfc/.
Reservoir release forecasts are subject to change as the weather and local conditions change.
Public safety is a priority and the public is urged to follow local emergency management officials for guidance regarding the flooding response.