May 11, 2016 - The lower portion of Waterton Canyon will reopen as scheduled on May 15, 2016. The area has been closed Monday through Saturday since Feb. 2, 2016, for construction of the High Line Canal diversion structure in the South Platte River.
Access to the river from the canyon entrance to mile marker 3.2 is closed indefinitely due to high flows in the South Platte River as a result of April storms. The high flows also prevented crews from completing the construction project by early May, as scheduled.
“It’s important for the public to know that it is not safe to access the South Platte River in the lower portion of the canyon,” said Brandon Ransom, Denver Water’s manager of recreation. “We will evaluate how the construction site handles the high flows this runoff season before making any decisions on when we can reopen it.”
The High Line Canal diversion, built between 1880 – 1883, is a wooden structure spanning the width of the South Platte River, about 1.5 miles up the canyon. It helps direct flows into the pipe that carries water to the High Line Canal, when needed. The original structure deteriorated over the years and was damaged beyond repair by high water during the 2015 runoff. Denver Water says it’s working to find a temporary solution to direct water to the High Line Canal without the diversion dam this spring.
“This is the challenge of building a dam,” said Doug Raitt, construction project manager. “We all wanted to finish the project before the spring runoff started, but with that big April snowstorm and warm temperatures, the river came up sooner than expected and we had to get out.”
Construction on the new dam is expected to resume in the fall when the river recedes.
Watch our behind-the-scenes video showing construction of the new High Line diversion dam.