March 24, 2015 - In June, Denver Water will begin emptying Antero Reservoir to clear the way for significant repairs to the 100-year-old dam. The park will close to the public on June 1, 2015, to allow for the next phase in a major rehabilitation project to take place.
Before the park closes, hand-launch boats, such as rowboats, canoes, kayaks and float tubes, will be allowed on the reservoir from ice-off through May 31, 2015. Both boat launches will be closed during this time frame, however, and neither motorized boats nor trailered boats will be allowed because there will be no aquatic nuisance species (ANS) boat inspections this year. Camping will be allowed until May 31, 2015. All RVs, campers and camping equipment must be removed from the site by sunset on May 31, 2015.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife has increased the bag and possession limit to eight fish, with no size restrictions.
The park will reopen for recreation once the reservoir has been refilled and recreational opportunities, like fishing, bird-watching and camping, have been restored.
The dam repair project, a $20 million undertaking that began in 2013, will ensure the century-old dam will operate safely for another 100 years. For the upcoming phase of construction, Denver Water will drain the reservoir so that construction work on the structure continues safely. Antero Dam was built in 1909 by Canfield and Shields of Greeley, and purchased by Denver Water in 1924.
“The primary benefit of this project is to bring the dam up to current safety standards, which will allow us to restore our normal water levels,” said Bill Dressel, Denver Water dam safety engineer.
Antero Reservoir has been operating at a reduced capacity since May 2011, when Denver Water lowered water levels at the reservoir to investigate the condition of the dam and as a safety precaution to reduce water pressure and seepage. The reservoir has been operating at a height of 16 to17 feet since then. When the project is complete, the water at Antero will return to a level of 18 feet, or 20,000 acre-feet of water, except in times of drought.
“While the short-term impacts of drawing down the reservoir are not ideal for those who love recreation at Antero, this project will provide long-term benefits to the fishery by increasing and maintaining the depth of the reservoir, which will reduce the threat of winter fish kill,” said Brandon Ransom, Denver Water’s manager of Recreation.
Denver Water will recapture and store the water drained from Antero Reservoir in several reservoirs along the South Platte River system, such as Cheesman, Chatfield and Marston. When the draining begins, Colorado Parks and Wildlife will salvage the fish in the reservoir.
Once the park is closed, the fish from Antero will be relocated to other reservoirs in Park County. “We’re called the ‘Park for All Seasons’ for a reason,” said Tom Eisenman, Park County administration officer. “Even though closing Antero Reservoir will have an impact on our local businesses and the economy, Park County has other similarly accessible locations for anglers, water-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy.”
Barring any weather or construction delays, refilling could begin as soon as spring of 2016. Generally, it takes from one to four years to refill the reservoir, depending on the amount of snowfall and timing of snowmelt. While it may be sooner, at this point, Denver Water estimates that the reservoir will return to its normal operation by late 2018, when construction ends.
Questions regarding fishing at Antero can be directed to Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 303-291-7227.
For more information about draining Antero Reservoir, read Denver Water’s story, Draining Antero Reservoir: Where will all that water go? And 9 more facts about rehabbing Denver Water’s 100-year-old Antero Dam. In addition, this interactive map highlights the dozens of other recreational opportunities in Park County.