US Army Corps of Engineers
Omaha District

Cherry Creek DSMS News

Annual sediment flushing exercise scheduled at Cherry Creek Reservoir
5/16/2018
The annual sediment flushing exercise will be completed at Cherry Creek Reservoir on Wednesday, May 23....
Public comment period extended for Cherry Creek Dam Water Control Plan changes
11/14/2016
Water managers for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District have extended the public comment period to December 16 for a Draft Report outlining proposed modifications to the Water Control Plan...
Proposed changes to Water Control Plan for Cherry Creek Dam near Denver, CO available for public comment
10/19/2016
Water managers for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District have released a Draft Report outlining proposed modifications to the Water Control Plan for Cherry Creek Dam during extreme flood...
Public meetings scheduled to discuss Cherry Creek Dam studies
9/8/2016
Three public meetings to provide an update on the status of two studies taking place at Cherry Creek Dam are scheduled for the week of September 20. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will host meetings...
Cherry Creek Dam water control plan modification study public meeting scheduled
1/8/2016
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, January 26, from 6-8 p.m. to gather input on modifying the Cherry Creek Dam Water Control Plan to release more...
Cherry Creek Dam Crest Road to close for dam safety instrumentation and maintenance project
6/3/2015
The Crest Road at Cherry Creek Dam will be closed from June 22 through July 12 to accommodate work that will be taking place adjacent to the crest road. The bike path at the downstream toe of the dam...
Safety Modification Study for Cherry Creek Dam: Public Meetings scheduled for January
1/7/2015
Cherry Creek Dam in Aurora, Colorado, is undergoing a Dam Safety Modification Study and an incorporated Environmental Impact Statement being conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha...
Maintenance project to begin at Cherry Creek Dam near Denver
12/8/2014
Work will begin in late December to install a 2,200-foot-long underground outfall pipe system for 14 relief wells that were installed along the downstream toe of the dam in 2012. The new relief well...
Draft Environmental Impact Statement to be prepared for Cherry Creek Dam, Aurora, Colo.
12/19/2013
A draft Environmental Impact Statement will be prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District to address environmental issues related to remediation alternatives that will be proposed at...
New relief wells to be installed at Cherry Creek
8/30/2012
The Drill Crew Unit of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, will be performing drilling work at Cherry Creek Dam in Arapahoe County, Colorado over the next four to five weeks. The Corps...
Cherry Creek Dam to get 12 new groundwater observation wells
4/12/2011
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, awarded a $370,700 contract to Shannon and Wilson, Inc., Geotechnical and Environmental Consultants, of St. Louis, Mo., to install new dam safety...
Corps awards contract for dam safety maintenance work at Cherry Creek Dam
11/22/2010
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, awarded a construction contract Sept. 30, 2010 to American West Construction LLC of Denver, Colo., to perform dam safety maintenance work at Cherry...

Cherry Creek Dam Safety Modification Study

Cherry Creek Dam was the first of the three dams to be built to lower the risks to the Denver region from catastrophic South Platte River floodwaters that plagued the area for more than 100 years. Located at the southeast edge of Denver in Aurora, Colo., construction of the dam began in 1948 and completed in 1950.
Cherry Creek Lake lies on Cherry Creek at its confluence with Cottonwood Creek, at the southeast edge of Denver. The lake is 3.25 miles long and has an average depth of 46 feet. The lake drains an area of approximately 390 square miles. The 850-surface-acre lake has a storage capacity of 13,960 acre-feet.
The Cherry Creek Dam safety Exercise, held in August 2013 brought together representatives from several agencies from across the Denver metropolitan area, the State of Colorado and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Participants were taken through a high water scenario at Cherry Creek Dam drawing upon a variety of experiences to help move through the exercise.

At Cherry Creek Dam, near Denver, Colo., a Dam Safety Modification Study is underway to consider and assess options for reducing the potential for life loss and property damage from detailed risks associated with the dam. The most significant safety concern at Cherry Creek Dam is the potential for overtopping during an extreme precipitation event. Although the chances for overtopping and/or failure are extraordinarily low, should high operational releases or a dam failure occur, a high urgency for action exists because of the potential for impacts to a large population that includes much of downtown Denver. For the more than 200,000 people living within this area, the dam reduces flooding risks for locations that would be prone to regular flooding.

Dams do not eliminate flooding, nor do they eliminate life loss, economic, or environmental damages from flood events. Should heavy rains occur, surface water runoff is stored in Cherry Creek Lake until the streams and rivers below the dam recede and can handle the release of stored water without life loss or property damage. In an extreme rain event, the reservoir may fill faster than releases can occur, the uncontrolled spillway may flow to protect the dam’s integrity even though streams and rivers may have already reached or exceeded their capacity. These water releases at high rates may cause downstream damages, and in an extreme event, the dam could overtop or a deficiency could cause a breach. To manage these risks, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a safety program to routinely inspect and monitor its dams and implements short and long-term remedial actions when unacceptable risks are found.

Downstream residents must be aware of the potential consequences, which are increased by the large Denver-area population and warrants increased efforts on the part of USACE, local emergency management officials and residents to heighten public awareness of the potential flood risk associated with the dam. The potential for loss of life is highest immediately downstream of the dam along Cherry Creek and the South Platte River. Life loss potential also exists downstream of the spillway along Toll Gate Creek and Sand Creek. The counties of Denver, Arapahoe, and Adams have the highest potential for life loss. Additionally, USACE has implemented interim risk reduction measures such as increasing warning time by improving forecasting models and improving gages that monitor inflows of water into the dam during extreme rain events. Better downstream channel capacity inundation mapping has also been developed to aid emergency response agencies in flood evacuation efforts. To better control seepage pressure due to high reservoir elevations, additional relief wells have been installed at the downstream toe of the dam. These interim measures reduce risk to the public while potential long-term remedial measures are pursued. A Dam Safety Modification Study is currently underway to define in detail the risk associated with Cherry Creek Dam and assess options for further reducing these risks associated with the dam.

The annual flood damage reduction benefits provided by the project for the time period of 1965 to 2013 are estimated to be $25,000,000.  Recreation resources at the project include over 800 acres of water surrounded by nearly 4,000 acres of land.  Estimated annual project visitation is nearly 4,000,000.

Water Control Plan Modification Study

An additional Water Control Plan Modification Study is being conducted to identify the beginning of extreme flooding conditions, determine when to begin making releases, and evaluate appropriate release rates under those conditions.