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Colorado: Denver Water to drain Antero Reservoir

Utility will work with wildlife biologists to rebuild fishery when the reservoir is refilled

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Denver Water will drain Antero Reservoir to save water that’s usually lost to evaporation.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Denver Water says it will save some 4,000 acre feet of water by completely draining Antero Reservoir in anticipation of drought conditions. The Park County reservoir was created in 1909 by the first dam ever built on the South Platte River.

Antero has the highest evaporation rate of any reservoir in the Denver Water system, so the utility says it makes more sense to store the water farther downstream, in Cheesman and Eleven Mile reservoirs.

“We’re exploring as many ways as possible to be efficient with our water supply,” said Dave Bennett, water resource manager for Denver Water. “Antero is a drought reservoir designed to provide water to our customers during a severe drought. Moving water from Antero to Cheesman will allow us to make the water available for our customers and reduce evaporation losses to our system.”

Drought conditions will determine when the reservoir can be refilled. The reservoir was also taken out of service for several years to assist with water management during the drought that began in 2002.

The reservoir will be closed May 1. Denver Water will work with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to minimize the loss of fish during the drain and to allow the public to use the reservoir before it closes.

Beginning Wednesday, March 20, the bag and possession limit on trout at Antero will be increased from two to eight fish with no minimum size restriction. All other fishing regulations apply.

  • Immediately after the ice has melted off the reservoir, CPW staff will trap and relocate spawning trout.
  • Once the fish have moved off the shoreline and inlet areas, the draining of the reservoir will increase significantly. CPW staff will install a series of screens below the reservoir to capture fish as they leave the reservoir.
  • In March, the standard recreation regulations apply.
    • South: Open 24 hours a day and camping is permitted.
    • North: Open from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset.
  • Beginning in April, Antero Reservoir will be open for recreational use from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. No camping will be permitted. After the ice has melted, only hand-launched vessels will be allowed. No trailered boats will be permitted.

“The fish relocation effort and stream flow management plan will be closely coordinated with Denver Water,” said Jeff Spohn, aquatic biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “We have come up with a plan to successfully remove as many trout out of Antero as possible to stock in other reservoirs in Park County. On a positive note, the water from Antero will be delivered to Cheesman at a flow rate that will benefit the wild rainbow trout fishery below Eleven Mile Reservoir.”

“We have a blueprint on how to successfully rebuild the fishery at Antero,” Spohn said. “We will be putting a lot of our efforts back into the reservoir once it begins to fill again, and we hope to see similar trophy trout fishing that we saw last time the reservoir refilled.”

Wildlife concerns and questions regarding fishing at Antero can be directed to Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 303-291-7227. For questions regarding Antero operations, contact Denver Water at 303-628-6117.

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