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Chatfield Reservoir: The best dam flood solution, period

The South Platte River flood of 1965 led to the construction of Littleton’s popular water recreation destination.
The South Platte River flood of June 1965, looking due east.


Chatfield Reservoir is known as a popular recreation destination for many along the Front Range. It provides great opportunities for boating, swimming, water skiing, camping and fishing — not to mention it's very close to Denver.

Many believe it was built to store public drinking water, but it was actually built as a flood control reservoir by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1967. This was in response to the 1965 flood of the South Platte River (pictured) that cost more than $500 million and claimed 28 lives.

Chatfield can hold more than 350,000 acre-feet of flood water in emergency situations, although its current capacity is only 27,000 acre-feet of water (roughly 8.8 billion gallons).

While its intended purpose is flood relief, Denver Water can store and pump water from Chatfield to supplement Denver’s public drinking water supply during times of drought.

Check out 5 things you may not know about Chatfield Reservoir to learn more.