Silverthorne police close lower Blue River to boaters due to increased outflows
June 18, 2015
In preparation for rising water levels due to snowmelt, Denver Water will increase Lake Dillon Reservoir outflows to 1,800 cubic feet per second into the lower Blue River. Silverthorne police announced Wednesday that the river would be closed to boaters due to the high water levels, with little clearance beneath the Highway 9 and 6th Street bridges.
"We want to make sure that watercraft users don't get caught in a dangerous situation," Silverthorne police chief Mark Hanschmidt said in a statement. "With the flow continuing to rise, this closure is necessary for public safety."
The closure will remain in effect indefinitely, until water levels decrease. While the town code does not apply the closure to kayaks, Silverthorne police still encourage them to avoid the two bridges south of 6th Street.
Police have kept an eye on water levels in previous weeks, with flow levels around 1,600 cf/s. But outflow levels will likely run high for at least a week, as Matt Wittern, with Denver Water, says inflows into Lake Dillon are unlikely to fall below 1,700 cf/s in the next seven days.
"Inflows from runoff into Dillon Reservoir averaged 2,467 cf/s yesterday — well above current and planned outflows," Wittern said in a statement on Wednesday.
Denver Water increased the outflows to prevent the reservoir from overflowing in the future. It is currently 3.25 feet below full, but water levels rose half a foot daily during the past week. Denver Water estimates that 5 to 7 inches of water equivalent in the snow in Hoosier and Freemont passes will soon melt.
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"We very much want to try and avoid a situation where Dillon Reservoir is spilling at a level that causes outflows to be above 1,800 cf/s — a scenario that is likely if we do not increase outflows," Wittern said in a statement. "Our experts predict that if we maintained 1,700 cf/s outflow and inflows remain around 2,400 cf/s, Dillon Reservoir would be full and spilling within a week."
Silverthorne Public Works removed a log stuck beneath the 6th Street bridge to prevent a collection of debris yesterday. Town police and public works will regularly check the bridges for obstructions while water levels are high.
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