DENVER — Recent rainfall and yearly snowmelt is delivering a one-two punch in many streams and rivers across Colorado. Streamflows are above normal in many parts of the state and have prompted restrictions in some places.
Strong water flow from the Barker Reservoir spillover caused debris to build up in certain areas along Boulder Creek Tuesday. The city closed the walking path along the creek near Arapahoe Avenue because of debris buildup.
Boulder Creek, measured at North 75th Street, was discharging at more than 474 cubic feet per second on Monday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). That was 170% of the normal mean, or average. You can view the full map here.
Fast-moving water is affecting other rivers and creeks too. On Monday, firefighters rescued five people from the Poudre River in Fort Collins. Stranded tubers and rafters caught up in dangerous rapids were plucked from the water around 4:30 p.m. No one was injured.
Since Memorial Day weekend, Poudre Fire Authority said it has rescued almost 20 people from the portion of the Poudre River that runs through Fort Collins.
On Tuesday, the Poudre River was running at a little over 1,500 cubic feet per second. Fire officials said the river is very dangerous at this point and will be for the next several weeks as spring runoff continues.
Golden officials have restricted waterway activities on Clear Creek within city limits. Water flows have consistently measured over 900 cubic feet per second and expected to rise as the snowpack continues to melt in the coming days.
Similar restrictions are in place on the North Saint Vrain and Saint Vrain Creek in Lyons. Tubing and single chamber flotation devices will not be allowed starting Wednesday. The restrictions will be place until June 25.
Jeanette Kehoe, the training and safety officer for the Golden Fire Department, says June is the most dangerous time of the year for water activities due to the snowmelt.
“The more water that’s flowing, the faster it goes and the more power it has. Just a little bit of water can actually knock you off your feet,” Kehoe said.
Elias Holunga, a Golden native, knows the dangers of Clear Creek all too well.
“I’ve hit my head in there before, and people had to drag me out of the river,” Holunga said.
On Tuesday, Firefighters from across Colorado, New Mexico and Kansas spent the day training in Clear Creek for swift water rescues. Restrictions at the river were announced less than 30 minutes after they finished their training.
“Rescues this time of year are extremely common,” Kehoe said.
On Saturday, three people were rescued from Clear Creek, according to officials.
Kehoe strongly recommends packing a life jacket, a helmet, water shoes and a whistle before heading out on a water adventure. If a raft or kayak overturns, she says make sure your feet are facing downstream to see where you are going and to help protect your head.
Restrictions are also in place on the North Saint Vrain and Saint Vrain Creek in Lyons. Tubing and single chamber flotation devices will not be allowed starting Wednesday. The restrictions will be place until June 25.