Impacts of rain and flooding

Our hearts are with those who have suffered major losses during the past week of torrential rain and flooding across the state. We know the impact has been devastating for many communities in Colorado.

Many people are wondering how Denver Water has been impacted by the flooding, so we wanted to address some of the common questions we are hearing.

Gross Dam Road experienced significant damage as a result of the storms.

Gross Dam Road experienced significant damage as a result of the storms.

How has the flooding affected Denver Water?

Denver Water has facilities in 13 counties in the state. Since Wednesday night, our caretakers who live and work at our facilities in the most hard-hit areas have been working around-the-clock to protect our dams, reservoirs, pipes and treatment plants from the impacts of the recent rain and flooding. Fortunately, we were able to make operational changes to maintain water quality, and customers have not experienced any water service or quality issues as a result of the weather. Ultimately, we will have repair work to do on some of our facilities, including roads and water channels that were washed out in the flooding.

Read about the impacts to recreation at Gross Reservoir here.

Are you running water down the High Line Canal?

On Sept. 11, we started running water down the High Line Canal because the water right was in priority. The rain also started around this time, so the next morning we stopped running water down the High Line and diverted the water we delivered out of the canal to protect against flooding. Unfortunately, the high levels of storm water caused flooding in some areas along the canal.

What has the rain meant for your water supply?

When we get heavy rain, we see higher stream flows, lower water use by customers, and sometimes changes in water rights that allow us to store the excess water. The amount of rain we received over the past week allowed us to capture storm water in reservoirs that typically don’t fill this time of year. As a result of the rain, our overall reservoir storage went up three percentage points and is currently 94 percent full. Typically, this time of year our overall reservoir storage is 90 percent full.

What about the drought?

This graph shows the wide range of impacts seen from drought and precipitation this year.

This graph shows the wide range of impacts seen from drought and precipitation this year.

Clearly, the flooding has changed the drought outlook. The rain and our customers’ reduced water use mean we’re heading into the fall and winter with higher reservoir levels than normal, putting us in a better position for filling our reservoirs next year.

Rain or drought, we ask customers to always use water efficiently. The watering rules under Stage 1 drought are the same as our annual watering rules, which are geared toward reinforcing efficient watering habits. (The difference between the two is that we ask for a voluntary water use reduction of 10 percent under Stage 1.) Because irrigation season is coming to an end, we’ll evaluate whether or not it’s necessary to modify the drought restrictions at this point in the year.

What should I do?

Most communities in Denver Water’s service area experienced 3 inches of rain or more. That much water means most vegetation won’t need to be irrigated for a week or so. As irrigation season wraps up, now is the time to plan for winterizing your sprinkler systems in October.

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