OMAHA, Neb. – As river stages downstream of Denver fall below flood stages, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District will begin to gradually increase releases from Bear Creek Reservoir.
Releases from Bear Creek and Cherry Creek reservoirs have been a combined 290 cubic feet per second (cfs) since September 16. Chatfield Lake remains 3.5 feet below the base of the flood control pool and no releases are scheduled.
Releases from Bear Creek reservoir will be gradually increased over the next few days. On Saturday, Sept. 21, releases will increase from 250 cfs to 300 cfs; Sunday, Sept. 22, releases will reach 400 cfs; and then increase to 500 cfs on Monday, Sept. 23. Forecasts indicate that Bear Creek reservoir will complete evacuation of flood storage during the second week of October. Releases from Cherry Creek Dam remain at 40 cfs. The Corps continues to monitor these releases in coordination with the State of Colorado.
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.
Inflows into Bear Creek Lake, located on Bear Creek Dam on the southwest edge of suburban Lakewood, Colo., have gradually declined since September 16. The reservoir pool elevation crest is forecast for September 21 at an elevation of 5608 feet.
In accordance with standard dam safety protocols for record pool levels, the Corps continues to conduct 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 remain closed to ensure the safety of workers and the public.
Pool elevations at Cherry Creek Lake, located on Cherry Creek Dam near Aurora, Colo., have begun to fall following its crest of 5553.2 feet on September 18. The September 18 crest is more than 12 feet lower than the record pool elevation at Cherry Creek, which was 5565.8 feet in 1973.
Reservoir releases are subject to change as the weather and local conditions change.
Other Corps Response
The Omaha District is authorized to provide emergency assistance, for critical public infrastructure, to states and Tribes under Public Law 84-99 during flood events when rivers are in flood stage or forecast to be in flood stage. Assistance is temporary in nature and is undertaken to supplement state and local efforts. Once river stages return below flood stage, assistance under PL 84-99 is no longer available.
Under the Stafford Act, states may work with FEMA who in turn will assign missions to federal agencies such as the Corps. The Corps is the lead agency for Emergency Support Function #3, which is Public Works and Engineering.
An ESF #3 team was activated in the State of Colorado and USACE Omaha District personnel are in the area leading that team.
A Power Planning and Response team that had deployed did not receive any additional taskings under the mission assignment and returned home September 18.
An Infrastructure Assessment Planning and Response team has received a mission assignment and will be providing infrastructure assessments for water and waste water treatment plants within the State of Colorado.
The Corps remains prepared and ready to receive further mission assignments under the ESF #3 mission.
Public safety is a priority and the public is urged to follow local emergency management officials for guidance regarding the flooding response.