High flows scheduled during annual maintenance at Cherry Creek Dam; USACE urges public safety May 24 –25 during sediment flush

Posted on May 18, 2022

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District announces it will release higher than normal flows of water through Cherry Creek Dam on May 24 as part of its annual sediment flushing to allow proper operation of the dam’s outlet gates.  USACE owns and operates this dam located in Aurora, Colorado, south of Interstate 225.

“During normal operations, we generally release less than 100 cubic feet of water per second from the dam,” Katie Seefus, water manager, Omaha District, said.  “Annual flushes help keep the gates clear of sediment so that the project can be operated reliably when needed to support its primary role of reducing the risk of downstream flooding.”  One cubic foot of water is equal to 7.5 gallons, she added.

District dam operators will increase releases to 50 cubic feet per second Monday, May 23 at 2:30 p.m., slightly higher than what is currently being released. The flush is scheduled to run Tuesday, May 24 from 9:00 a.m.-1:10 p.m. but is subject to change due to operational conditions. The total amount released from each gate will fluctuate between 150 cfs and 1,300 cfs and will return to normal following the flush.

“High flows will take some time to reach the downtown channel with an estimated arrival time at the Champa Street Bridge about six hours later. Flows from the last gate opened for the flush will not reach the downtown channel until Wednesday evening,” Seefus, said.  “In the interest of public safety, we urge the public not to attempt to cross Cherry Creek during these high flows and we want the public to know that these higher water levels could temporarily flood bike paths and stream crossings below the dam.”

USACE, Omaha District also owns and operates Chatfield and Bear Creek dams in the Denver metropolitan area. With Cherry Creek Dam, they collectively reduce risks to the region from flooding. When not operating to reduce flood impacts, USACE manages water releases from the dams for recreation, water quality, and to support fish and wildlife.

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