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Cherry Creek in Denver likely to flood Tuesday, Wednesday during annual sediment flush

Anybody who uses the trail for commuting or recreating will need to find alternate routes
Cherry Creek Trail
Posted at 12:54 PM, May 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-24 17:59:52-04

DENVER — An annual sediment flush of the Cherry Creek Dam will flood the channel Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning, which may close portions of the Cherry Creek Trail in and around downtown Denver.

The Omaha District of the US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE), which owns and operates the Cherry Creek Dam, will release higher than normal flows of water through the dam in Aurora. This is part of the annual sediment flushing to allow proper operation of the dam’s outlet gate, the USACE said.

Katie Seefus, water manager for the Omaha District, said during normal operations, about 100 cubic feet of water or less is released per second from the dam. The flush — which will run between 9 a.m. and 1:10 p.m. Tuesday — will increase to between 150 and 1,300 cubic feet of water per second. It will then return to normal.

Cherry Creek path to flood during flush

The high flows will take about six hours to reach the downtown channel, specifically the Champa Street Bridge, the USACE said.

"Flows from the last gate opened for the flush will not reach the downtown channel until Tuesday 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.”

These annual flushes are necessary to keep sediment away from gates. It also reduces the risk of downstream flooding, the USACE said.

Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) said it will monitor water levels in the downtown channel through early Wednesday, and will clean up debris where it's needed. Anybody who uses the trail for commuting or recreating should use an alternative route, DPR said. Staff will place caution tape along ramps that lead to low areas that are extra susceptible to flooding.

The USACE Omaha District also owns and operates the Chatfield Dam and Bear Creek Dam.