Year-long project to upgrade dam at Steamboat Lake State Park begins this spring
With construction equipment assembling soon, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is advising visitors to observe signage and avoid the area in and around the dam while work is ongoing. In addition, park personal say the nearby Sage Flats day-use area will close until the project is complete.
To ensure the continued safety and efficient operation of the dam, state engineers will upgrade and repair the tower outlet infrastructure, then install a new monitoring and control system.
"The integrity of the dam's structure remains solid and there is no danger to nearby residents," said Colorado Dam Operation Engineer John Clark. "But to ensure this dam continues to be safe into the future, it is vital that we do this work soon."
Park Manager Julie Arington says the majority of the park will remain open and unaffected by the project. The Marina is open, boating is still a major attraction and camping, hiking and fishing will remain excellent.
"We understand this may be an inconvenience for some anglers that enjoy Sage Flats, but the repairs are necessary to maintain dam safety," she said. "In the meantime, there are many other places to fish here. People can stop by the Visitor Center for more information about alternatives available to them."
Arington says during the construction phase, engineers will divert water through the dam's spillway. Reservoir water levels will fluctuate and will be kept at lower than normal levels but there are no plans to drain or significantly lower water levels.
"The bottom line is that most visitors will see very minimal impacts to the activities they enjoy at this park," she said. "We look forward to a great summer."
Built in the mid-1960s,the Willow Creek Dam is considered a 'high-hazard' dam, a designation assigned to dams that could cause loss of life in the event of failure. State engineers say that in the unlikely event that the Willow Creek Dam becomes unstable, an Emergency Action Plan is in place to protect public safety.
Visit the Colorado Division of Water Resources for more information about dam safety.
For more information, contact Steamboat Lake State Park at 970-879-3922, or visit them on the CPW website.