Chatfield Reservoir: The best dam flood solution, period – News on TAP

The South Platte River flood of 1965 led to the construction of Littleton’s popular water recreation destination.

Source: Chatfield Reservoir: The best dam flood solution, period – News on TAP

Gilcrest: Chatfield Storage Reallocation Project open house, September 6, 2017

Proposed reallocation pool — Graphic/USACE

From The Greeley Tribune:

Representatives for the Chatfield Storage Reallocation Project will host an open house from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Sept. 6 in the cafeteria at Valley High School, 1001 Birch St. in Gilcrest.

Final designs for the recreational facilities changes and environmental mitigation projects for Chatfield Reservoir and the surrounding Chatfield State Park will be on display. Another display will show the agricultural benefits of the project, according to a release issued Saturday from the Chatfield Mitigation Co. The workings of the environmental pool to help time releases of the stored water also will be illustrated with a display.

The $134 million project will allow Chatfield to store up to 20,600-acre feet of additional water.

Representatives from consultant firms working on the designs, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the participating water districts all will be there to answer questions.

Update on chatfield storage reallocation project

Proposed reallocation pool — Graphic/USACE

From The Denver Post (Joe Rubino):

After more than a decade of discussion and planning, the Chatfield Storage Reallocation Project is set to begin later this year. The more than two-year construction effort will prepare the reservoir to accommodate an additional 20,600 acre feet of water to meet a variety of municipal, agricultural and industrial needs. Currently, the reservoir holds about 27,000 acre feet of water. Eventually it will hold up to another 20,600 acre feet of water and the the water level could rise as much as 12 vertical feet, officials said.

Beginning in winter and continuing through spring, the swim beach and north boat ramp will be reconstructed to accommodate the future shoreline. By the end of 2019, many other features of the park, including the marina, day use areas and South Platte bridge will be visited by construction crews and earth movers.

The park will remain open throughout construction. Higher water levels will change features along the reservoir’s shore…

The project will cost an estimated $160 million, said Tim Feehan, general manager of the Chatfield Reservoir Mitigation Co., whose eight partners — including Castle Rock, Centennial Water and Sanitation District and the Castle Pines Metropolitan District — will pay that tab in proportion to the amount of water storage each will be granted. Of that, $140 million has already been set aside in escrow.

Groundbreaking awaits final design approval from the Army Corps of Engineers, which built, owns and leases the reservoir to Colorado Parks and Wildlife for recreational use, Roush said. Preliminary designs and a tentative construction schedule are available online at, a project website created by Chatfield Reservoir Mitigation Co.

The swim beach is scheduled to close for reconstruction in late fall and reopen for use by Memorial Day weekend 2018. The beach and park perimeter road will be moved to the west, away from the present shoreline, to accommodate greater water fluctuations, effectively creating another 200 feet of beach area at low water. The parking lot will be expanded and the shower, restrooms and other features will be rebuilt. The north boat ramp also is scheduled to reopen to use by next Memorial Day weekend.

“A lot of the work is going to be done over the wintertime when the visitation is down and when the swim beach is closed and when the boat ramps are closed,” Roush said. “It’s about minimizing the time when the users would not be able to use those areas.”

@CFWEwater — Barr Milton Urban Waters Tour

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I rode along with the Barr Lake and Milton Reservoir Watershed Association and the Colorado Foundation for Water Education on their Urban Waters Tour of the South Platte River last Wednesday. These rides are educational and fun and well worth the time. It was great to meet some new folks from the water community. Thanks to Amy Conklin for organizing the ride.

We started at Johnson Habitat Park where the Greenway Foundation has located their SPREE outdoor school. We learned about efforts to increase the volume of water in the river through the Chatfield Reallocation Project which will provide environmental flows through the City of Denver. Joe Shoemaker, Jr. explained the genesis of the Greenway Foundation and how the area we were in was one of Denver’s dumps during his youth. The educational effort was in full swing with young students plying the waters for macro-invertebrates and other life.

A representative from Trout Unlimited conveyed his excitement about landing big carp from the river. He also told us that a fisherman recently pulled a 24 inch rainbow from the river just upstream from the park.

Further downstream at Weir Gulch the focus was on widening the channel to more a more natural flood plain to help manage stormwater and improve river and riparian health. The South Platte through here, back in the day, was a braided, meandering stream with a flood plain that was sometimes as wide as a mile.

A Denver Parks representative explained the big project at Confluence Park — the replacement of the original structures from the first project in the South Platte revitalization effort. Kudos to the contractor that stayed with the project as their profit dried up due to the discovery of coal tar on site. The Denver representative said that the company believed in the project and the benefits to the community.

The last stop was at the site of Globeville Landing Park. There was a lot of construction going on to build an outfall for stormwater management. Denver is building their Platte to Park Hill Project to mitigate flooding caused by construction and development over the years.

I highly recommend these tours. You’ll learn a lot, get a bike ride in, and meet some interesting folks. The South Platte River through Denver is a great ride. What a success story.

Chatfield Storage Reallocation Project update

Proposed reallocation pool — Graphic/USACE

From The Castle Rock News-Press (Alex DeWind):

The $130 million project, called the Chatfield Storage Reallocation Project, approved in 2014will allow water storage for eight municipal water providers and agricultural organizations across the Denver metro area and northeast Colorado. Construction is expected to begin late this year and will take up to two years to complete.

“The ability to store in that much space gives Highlands Ranch new surface water supplies,” said Rick McCloud, water resources manager of Centennial Water and Sanitation District in Highlands Ranch, one of eight participants. “We can use that water instead of non-tributary (non-renewable) groundwater.”

Chatfield Reservoir Mitigation Co., formed in 2015 to implement the project, hosted a May 30 open house at ThunderRidge High School in Highlands Ranch for the public to learn about upcoming changes at Chatfield Reservoir and the surrounding state park, which is a major recreational draw for Front Range residents.

The following are five things to know about the reallocation project.


In 1975, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built Chatfield Reservoir at the confluence of the South Platte River and Plum Creek to control flooding following the disastrous 1965 flood.

The main purpose of the reservoir, which currently has the ability to store more than 350,000 acre-feet of water, is flood control, but it also provides space for multiuse water and maintains fisheries and wildlife habitat.

In response to a growing demand for water — the Statewide Water Supply Initiative, commissioned by the state Legislature, estimates by 2030 Front Range water demand will exceed supply by 22 percent — the corps determined Chatfield Reservoir could accommodate additional storage space.

“We are taking advantage of an existing federal structure,” said Colleen Horihan, the corps’ project manager.

Who will benefit

The project is a partnership among eight water providers and environmental organizations: Colorado Water Conservation Board, Centennial Water and Sanitation District, Central Colorado Water Conservancy District, Castle Pines North Metro District, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Castle Rock, Center of Colorado Water Conservancy District and Castle Pines Metro District.

Participants will fund upward of $130 million over the next two years for construction of the project. Each provider will receive a varying amount of the additional 20,600 acre-feet of storage space for surface water in Chatfield Reservoir once the reallocation is complete.

The project allows participants to have access to renewable water supplies at an existing water storage reservoir, according to Chatfield Reservoir Mitigation Co. It also provides renewable water supplies for paying customers in several communities, such as Highlands Ranch, Castle Pines and Castle Rock.

Recreational impact

In order to prepare for the reallocation project, many recreational facilities will be modified in phases starting this fall. Most modifications include moving and elevating public areas for increased flood protection and updating existing structures, including picnic structures and bathrooms. A list of detailed designs is available at

Chatfield Reservoir Mitigation Co. encourages park users to follow the project on Facebook and Twitter and to ask questions and receive updates on closures and construction schedules.

“Social media channels are critical platforms,” said Ben Waymire, social media consultant of the project. “These are channels for residents to engage.”


On-site and off-site environmental mitigation will be done at Chatfield State Park to address impacts of storing more water in the reservoir, according to Chatfield Reservoir Mitigation Co.

Mitigation will include an adaptive tree-management plan for the reservoir to remove dead trees and debris along the shoreline and to identify a long-term tree-monitoring program. A $424,000 budget is set aside for pre-construction weed control. Off-site mitigation is being explored for bird and Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitats. Depleted water channels and wetlands will be restored using vegetation and structures.

“We are creating more wetland habitat than we are impacting with the project,” said Barbara Biggs, project manager.


The reallocation project will begin in fall of this year and is expected to be complete by 2020, after which the reservoir will be able to store up to 20,600 acre feet of additional water.

Construction will be done in 12 phases, starting with the north boat ramp of the reservoir, to minimize impact on Chatfield State Park — the most visited state park in Colorado with more than 1.6 million visitors per year, according to the mitigation company. The final phase will be wetland and bird habitat mitigation of Mary Gulch, an eastern tributary of the South Platte River.

Chatfield Reservoir environmental storage pool project scores $400,000 from @WaltonFamilyFdn

Chatfield Reservoir

From the Walton Family Foundation via The Villager:

The Walton Family Foundation has provided $400,000 in support of The Greenway Foundation and Denver Water pledge drive for the environmental pool at Chatfield Reservoir. If the pledge drive is successful, the foundation’s funding will purchase of 45 acre-feet of storage in the reservoir.

The pledge drive, announced last August, will add 500 acre-feet of environmental storage at Chatfield Reservoir through a community coalition. Denver Water has committed nearly $2 million to fund the purchase of 250 acre-feet of storage space in Chatfield — if The Greenway Foundation can raise the funds necessary to match that amount.

Ted Kowalski, who leads the Colorado River Initiative for the Walton Family Foundation, stated: “The foundation focuses on developing sustainable water management practices for the Colorado River basin. This innovative project pairs agricultural water users located downstream on the South Platte River with holders of existing storage located upstream at Chatfield Reservoir, to benefit both parties and the intervening riparian environment of the South Platte River. This could be a model for use throughout the Colorado River basin, and other basins.”

The 500 acre-feet of water would be added to the 1,600 acre-feet for an environmental pool being developed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado Water Conservation Board through the Chatfield Reallocation Project, for a total of 2,100 feet of storage.

The environmental pool will be set aside for releases of water that will provide environmental and water quality benefits to the South Platte River below Chatfield during low-flow periods of the year when additional stream flow levels are critically needed.

In addition to the commitment from the Walton Family Foundation for the 45 acre-feet of storage, the grant to The Greenway Foundation also provides funding for the creation of a management plan to maximize the effectiveness of the water releases to the South Platte River.

“The Greenway Foundation is grateful for the very generous grant from the Walton Family Foundation as well as Denver Water’s commitment for support through the fundraising challenge” said Jeff Shoemaker, The Greenway Foundation’s executive director. “Contributions to the environmental pool are a one-time only cost for environmental, water quality, and recreational benefits that will last for generations.”

The Greenway Foundation has secured the following additional commitments toward meeting the challenge grant from Denver Water:

  • City and County of Denver – 50 acre-feet
  • The Greenway Foundation – 10 acre-feet
  • The Colorado Parks Foundation – 10 acre-feet
  • Shoemaker Family – 10 acre-feet
  • Rinehart Family – 1 acre-foot
  • Capitol Representatives – 1 acre-foot
  • Total to date (to match Denver Water challenge): 82 acre-feet
  • Arapahoe County Open Spaces Program and the cities along the South Platte River within Arapahoe County are also actively working to make a contribution to purchase 50 acre-feet to the environmental pool. The jurisdictions collaborate as members of the South Platte Working Group, which is seeking to make funding commitments by the end of this year.

    “Our goal is to enhance efforts to improve the urban reach of the South Platte River, helping to ultimately create a fishable river right in the heart of Denver,” said Denver Water CEO Jim Lochhead. “We believe that with the commitment of the community, this river that has been ignored can be healthy and beautiful to help ensure Denver remains a vibrant, exciting city.”

    Outreach and engagement efforts are also underway with numerous additional public and private entities and individuals to secure the remaining support needed to meet the Denver Water challenge. The goal is to have commitments for the full 250 acre-feet by the end of August 2017.

    The environmental pool storage will be filled by a water right owned by the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District, a major agricultural district downstream from Denver. Releases from the environmental pool will flow through the Denver metro area, providing environmental, recreational and water quality benefits, and then be used by Central for agriculture. Every drop of water in the environmental pool will provide multiple benefits.

    The environmental pool is part of the overall Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation Project which, when completed in 2019, will allow for an additional 20,600 acre-feet to be stored in the reservoir.

    WaterNews: November 2016 is hot off the presses from @DenverWater

    Chatfield Reservoir
    Chatfield Reservoir

    Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

    5 things you may not know about Chatfield Reservoir

    Chatfield State Park is an outdoor sanctuary in Denver’s backyard. But it’s more than a beautiful place — this is one hard-working reservoir. Here’s why.

    Chatfield was built for flood control by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, after the 1965 South Platte River flood. During drought, Chatfield water can be pumped to our Marston treatment plant to supplement drinking water supplies. Only water from Denver Water is currently stored behind the dam, even though the dam is federally owned. Colorado State Parks leases the land and oversees park operations.

    Chatfield is used for water exchanges to trade downstream users with rights to the water, which allows Denver Water to keep water in the mountain locations of our reservoir system.

    Chatfield provides recreational benefits beyond the obvious. In addition to preserving levels for recreation, we use the reservoir to capture water released from Strontia Springs Reservoir. These flows keep the river at optimum levels to support Waterton Canyon’s trout fishery.

    Chatfield is about to take on even more responsibility. The Chatfield Storage Reallocation Project will increase water levels by about 12 feet. But this won’t be Denver’s water. Instead, it will help meet demands for growing Front Range communities and downstream farmers. Denver Water will still maintain its original storage pool in the reservoir. The Chatfield Reservoir Mitigation Company also is working with state agencies to develop a plan for a storage “pool” within the reservoir for the environment.