Millions of gallons of water released into Cherry Creek for annual sediment flushing

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DENVER -- Even with all the rain lately, millions of gallons of water were dumped into Cherry Creek on Wednesday.

The Army Corps of Engineers released the water from Cherry Creek Reservoir in an annual sediment flush of the creek.

The city was concerned about the number of homeless people who are camping along the creek. While the creek levels were high in the morning after overnight rain, they dropped back down to normal before the surge of water arrived in the afternoon.

Millions of gallons of water flowed down the creek, moving at 13,000 cubic feet per second. The water from the reservoir carried organic debris, silt, some fish and anything else from the bottom of the dam downstream.

Denver Parks and Recreation Superintendent Harry Hill manages Cherry Creek recreation through Denver.

"The trail, running, biking, walking, everything, it's a great asset for the city,” he said.

The creek was closely monitored after about an inch of rain fell overnight.

“We were watching the gauges downstream just to make sure that we weren't adding anything that we couldn't handle,” said Joe Maxwell with the Army Corps of Engineers.

About 50 million gallons of water were added to the creek, enough to fill 76 Olympic-size swimming pools. Essentially the dam is a safety valve to protect the Denver area.

"Public safety is the Corps' No. 1 priority, so Cherry Creek Dam was built for flood control to protect the public,” Maxwell said.

The drainage gates worked perfectly to control water flow during the 2013 flooding and it's why test runs are held every year.

"It kinda clears, scours out in front of those gates so when we need to call on them to release a lot of water, if there was a flood situation when we open them up, we're getting the amount of water that we know can come out,” Maxwell said.

Instead of a massive wall like the one that devastated Denver in 1965. The Corps said the drain system worked according to plan and so far they're not seeing any problems caused by the higher levels.

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