Dillon Reservoir and rivers on the rise

Summit County urges residents and visitors to be prepared during peak runoff season.

June 24, 2019 | By: Jay Adams


It took a while, but the snow runoff is in full swing across Summit County. The melting snow is expected to fill Dillon Reservoir in early July, and lead to swift and high-water levels below Dillon Dam for several weeks.

Denver Water plays an important role during runoff season in Summit County because operations at Dillon Reservoir have an impact on Blue River water levels below the dam, Front Range water supply, recreation and tourism.

This picture shows a river running fast through a forest.
The North Fork of the Snake River runs fast through Keystone in June. Photo credit: Denver Water.


“We want residents and visitors to be aware that flooding is always a risk during runoff season, so they should be prepared,” said Brian Bovaird, emergency management director in Summit County. “We work closely with Denver Water to keep people informed about water conditions.”

During runoff season, Denver Water sends daily and weekly updates about Dillon Reservoir’s water level, projected streamflow and water releases to stakeholders and officials in Summit County so they can plan for high flows and alert the public about conditions.

This picture shows the Blue River running rapidly through a forest.
The Blue River running high near Breckenridge just before entering Dillon Reservoir. Photo credit: Denver Water.


Summit County Emergency Management provides a runoff season guide that includes swift-water safety tips, flood preparedness and FEMA insurance information for property owners. The county also encourages residents and visitors to sign up for its Summit County Alert system to receive warnings about hazardous conditions.

“We provide sandbags for free every spring, and the county posts updates on its emergency blog during active incidents,” Bovaird said. “The county also uses a public alert system similar to Amber Alerts if flooding is posing serious threats to public safety.”

This picture shows a pile of sand that is used to fill sandbags to protect against flooding.
Summit County provides free sandbags to residents during runoff season. Photo credit: Denver Water.


Summit County’s public works department has been busy removing debris and obstructions from waterways and culverts so high water doesn’t back up. Warning signs are also posted along walkways and streets along rivers and streams when water levels begin to rise.

The public can also get updates on water conditions by signing up for Denver Water’s free Dillon Runoff e-newsletter.

This picture shows Dillon Reservoir under cloudy skies.
Dillon Reservoir from Frisco. The Tenmile Creek is flowing in from the lower left corner. Photo credit: Denver Water.

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