The Clean Water Blog

March at Cherry Creek State Park - Credit: Sharon / Creative Commons

Protecting Cherry Creek Reservoir

Cherry Creek Reservoir is one of the most important urban aquatic resources in the State of Colorado. It is a Gold Medal walleye fishery, attracting more than 1.5 million visitors each year. You can boat, swim, fish on the lake and hike on trails throughout the large State park surrounding the reservoir. The park teems with wildlife, including hawks, occasional bald eagles, rare white pelicans, deer, antelope, coyotes, foxes and numerous other species.

We've organized the community for a long time to protect this important resource, which is vulnerable to the impacts of rampant growth surrounding it.  We've mobilized residents to send letters and attend hearings to fight back against previous efforts to lower protections for water quality. This has resulted in safeguards that continue to control the amount of nutrients that can be discharged by upstream towns and industry to the streams that feed the Reservoir.

We also took the fight to the state level and won big. Thanks to Clean Water Action and community efforts, the majority of the funding for the agency charged with protecting the Reservoir has to be used on actual projects to enhance water quality. It prohibited those monies from being used on efforts to weaken protective water quality standards. We also won a more balanced board for the agency, with half of the members appointed by the Governor and representing mostly environmental, scientific, and community leaders.  Over time, these changes have led to renewed energy to seek solutions to the problems causing excessive nutrients in the reservoir.

The regulatory agency—The Cherry Creek Water Basin Quality Authority—has hired a team of experts to develop a sophisticated model which will help us predict how various strategies may be more or less beneficial to controlling the overgrowth of algae in the reservoir. This is a very positive undertaking that should lead to a more scientific approach to protecting and preserving this invaluable resource.

The newly energized Basin Authority has put full support behind this meaningful approach to water quality protection, which holds promise that we may continue to enjoy this beautiful public resource for many years to come.