Trouts Journal

Denver Trout Unlimited completes funding commitment in support of improved river flows in the South Platte River

Ivan Orsic / Nov 20, 2020

We received some terrific news in our inbox this morning from our good friends at Denver Trout Unlimited. DTU made their final payment to the Greenway Foundation in support of the Chatfield Environmental Pool! We've been proud to donate to DTU over the years through events like Carp Slam and our Throwback Fly Fishing Film Fest to help them reach their goal and look forward to continuing to assist in their mission of restoring, improving, and protecting the Denver South Platte. Check it out!

For Immediate Release
November 20, 2020

Denver Trout Unlimited completes funding commitment in support of improved river flows in the South Platte River

Denver Trout Unlimited is proud to announce the final payment to the Greenway Foundation in support of the Chatfield Environmental Pool. The Environmental Pool was created to allow for strategic releases out of Chatfield Reservoir to enhance stream flows and water quality in the South Platte River below the reservoir. Environmental releases will not only provide water quantity and water quality benefits downstream of the reservoir but may be utilized downstream by the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District for agricultural purposes. This final payment caps an original donation commitment made in early 2017 of $75,000 to fund 10-acre feet (AF) of water to help improve the flows and the fishing experience on the South Platte through Metro and Downtown Denver.

Fisherman using a low-flow channel at Carson Nature Center at 20 cfs. Cool water releases in summer months will allow fish populations to flourish and improve recreation opportunities in the Denver South Platte River

Most of these funds were raised by local chapter members and also volunteer fundraising efforts from the Denver Trout Unlimited’s Annual Carp Slam fishing tournament.

“This payment caps off a three-year effort by dozens of volunteers investing hundreds of hours fundraising.” Dan Kubik, President of Denver Trout Unlimited. “Denver Trout Unlimited’s goal is to support and enhance the aquatic habitat and fishery throughout the length of the urban Denver stretch of the South Platte river. Ensuring sufficient water flows goes a long way to this goal.”

Zero flow day below Chatfield Dam. Eliminating zero flow days will allow the river to support more macro invetebrate diversity.

How It Works And Why It Matters:

The goal of the Chatfield Environment Pool is to help stabilize stream flows and eliminate “no flow days” in the South Platte River below Chatfield Reservoir. This will improve the river habitat and increase the viability and diversity of aquatic life in the urban South Platte river in two ways:

  • Eliminating days with zero or near zero flows. A minimum flow that would meet the criteria of the 50 % to 70 % wetted channel is 30 cfs in the Chatfield Reach and 10 cfs in the 64th Avenue Reach. Those reaches have the lowest flows in the study area. Eliminating zero flow days will increase habitat for macroinvertebrates that live at the bottom of the river and will allow the river to support larger fish populations.
  • A secondary goal is to release water on low flow days in summer for additional refuge habitat during times of elevated water temperature. Flows of 30 cfs to 40 cfs provide an additional 0.5 ft to 1.0 ft of depth compared to the depth at 10 cfs. This will allow Denver TU to focus on adding new fish habitat like Lunker pipes (in-stream hiding structures) and deep channel reconstruction (similar to deep channels at the Carson Nature Center)
Zero flow day below Chatfield Dam close-up. This section of river is often dry in summer months.

The Chatfield Environmental Pool was originally created as part of the agreement between the Reallocation Project Partners and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) in January 2014. The original environmental pool included 1000 acre-feet (AF) acquired by CPW and 600 AF acquired by the State. The environmental pool has now been expanded by 500 AF to 2,100 AF because of the generosity of a partnership of 22 public and private, foundation and nonprofit entities and individuals.

If you would like to learn more about this project, make a donation or become a Denver Trout Denver Unlimited member please visit or email Trout Unlimited is a tax exempt 501 (c)(3) chapter under the Trout Unlimited National organization.

For more information:

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