CALL7: Larimer County Big Elk Meadows Dam 'fully breached,' threat to Little Thompson Creek

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. - The Call 7 Investigators confirmed an earthen dam in Big Elk Meadows area has given way and now officials are concerned water is causing water levels to rise on Little Thompson Creek.

The Meadow Lake Dam was “fully breached,” according to Bill McCormick, chief of the Dam Safety Branch in the Colorado Division of Water Resources. He said the dam is a small, earthen dam about 10 feet tall.

Emergency Services is reporting three remaining dams in Larimer County area may have also broken due to a large flow of water. They are Willow Lake Dam, Rainbow Lake Dam and Sunset Lake Dam. Officials say they are are still working to confirm that report. Its effect on flooding is still unknown and adds to a potential crisis in Northern Colorado.  

CALL7 Senior Producer Michael de Yoanna learned a total of $139,000 was recently spent to repair the Big Elk Meadows dam. The work included upgrades to the dam's drainage system and embankment fixtures, according to the State Engineer's 27th Annual Report on Dam Safety presented to the Colorado General Assembly.

However, McCormick said he does not believe construction was related to the breech.

“The spillway capacity was exceeded because of the rain,” said McCormick.

A reverse notification sent to residents in the Big Elk Meadows area warned residents that other dams in that area, off County Road 47, were in danger of giving way due to flooding.

Another problem for the region: Lake Estes in Estes Park is at full capacity, according to federal officials with the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. Another emergency notification sent to 598 residents in Big Thompson Canyon warned them that water levels are expected to rise as officials release water from Estes Lake's Olympus Dam.

A reverse notification was sent to residents in Pinewood Springs and Blue Mountain, warning them that river water levels will rise quickly and that they should be prepared to move to higher ground. The notification warned residents that CR 47 was impassable because of flooding and debris in the roadway. Residents were told not use that road.