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Due to dropping water levels in the Yampa River, the City of Steamboat Springs is implementing closures for all commercial activities on the Yampa River and asking the public to abide by a voluntary closure for recreational river use. The river closure, which began today, Tuesday, August 27, 2019, will remain in effect until conditions improve.
“A mandatory closure isn’t something the city takes lightly,” stressed Parks & Recreation Director Angela Cosby. “We would like to thank the community, particularly our commercial operators, for their cooperation and support during this time.”
Stream flows have fallen below 85 cubic feet per second (cfs), the minimum level required for recreational use and one of the thresholds outlined in the Yampa River Management Plan for a mandatory river closure. Water levels have steadily dropped over the past week moving from 100 cfs on August 23 to the most recent level of 82 cfs this morning. Average flow for this time of year is around 110 cfs.
All commercial operations are suspended until river conditions return to acceptable levels. Commercial river recreation companies must also adhere to regulations adopted in the Yampa River Management Plan. River users – tubers, SUP-ers, swimmers, anglers – are requested to adhere to the voluntary closure and avoid river recreation. Please be mindful of the impacts your actions may have on the Yampa River and its wildlife.
Fortunately, river temperatures have remained relatively consistent hovering between highs of 68-72 degrees and overnight lows between 58 to 62 degrees. When looking at a river closure, any one of three factors (low water flows, high water temperatures and low dissolved oxygen levels) can trigger action.
The city is investigating calling for a portion of its leased water in Stagecoach Reservoir to enhance flows in the Yampa River while also increasing hydropower production at the dam. With the release, water levels could increase to a point that the river might be in a position to reopen.
“With a rainless August, which has likely increased irrigation diversions, the Yampa dropped significantly over the past week,” said Kelly Romero-Heaney, Water Resources Manager. “With this release, we’d hope to see enough of a bump in flows to raise levels above 85 cfs and hold off a closure at least through the holiday weekend. We’ll just have to wait and see as we get closer to the weekend.”
Notices have been posted at popular river access points requesting everyone’s cooperation in staying out of the river until conditions improve. Thank you for Respecting the Yampa and helping to protect the health of the river. City staff will continue to monitor flows and river temperatures at the 5th Street Bridge.
Contact:Jenny Carey, Open Space & Trails Supervisor, 970.871.7014 or emailCraig Robinson, Parks, Open Space and Trails Manager, 970.871.7034 or emailKelly Romero-Heaney, Water Resources Manager, 970.871.8205 or email