Cold-water South Platte under attack

big-rainbow-in-downtown-denverThe South Platte River below Chatfield Reservoir is a viable fishery. Sure, it contains some sizable carp (a species which some believe are deserving of nothing but death), but this urban waterway is also home to smallmouth bass, walleye, and (even far downstream) trout.

More than 25 years ago the section of river from the reservoir to Bowels Avenue was designated a cold-water habitat. This label restricts toxic outflows into the water, and allows anglers to enjoy some good fishing not far from Denver. In addition, several local chapters of Trout Unlimited have made significant efforts to clean up the river, and the Denver Chapter puts on the South Platte Carp Slam to raise money for reconstructing parts of the river for trout. That could all change, and soon.

southplattechatfieldThis afternoon the Water Quality Control Commission will hear testimony to reclassify this up-and-coming trout fishery as “warm water.” This means discharge restrictions could loosen up. The trout that call the river home may wind up on a bench in Centennial Park, along with whatever other wildlife depends on this section for survival. And those anglers who’ve begun looking at the river for it’s carping challenges will probably think twice about it next time too. I know I will. Further, all the hard work (and money) that Trout Unlimited has put into the river will be for naught.

I’m late to the punch on this one, but if you have something to say about this matter there are hearings scheduled for 1pm and 5pm, today, at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, Colorado 80246-1530. I’ll be there, but there’s no need to worry – since this really is serious I’ll be dressed appropriately.

MG signing off (to prepare my testimony)


Todd F. says:

As some of you know, we lost that day. Segment 6c and its coldwater designation is gone. It sort of a good news bad news thing…alright it’s mostly bad but…in the WQCC comments the commission showed its support for DTU’s Carson Nature Center improvement project.

Todd – thanks for saying what I couldn’t bear to myself. I know there is GOOD news coming though, and I know everyone appreciates your hard work. Keep us all informed. Cheers, MG.

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