In response to ongoing drought conditions on the Front Range, Denver Water announced Friday it would drain Antero Reservoir.
The decision, made in conjunction with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, outlines a plan to close and begin draining Antero Reservoir on May 1 in an effort to save water. Antero Reservoir has the highest evaporation rate of any of Denver Water’s reservoirs, according to a Parks and Wildlife news release.
Antero Reservoir is between Fairplay and Buena Vista on U.S. Highway 285.
Water drained at Antero will be transferred and stored in Cheesman and Eleven Mile reservoirs, reducing system evaporation losses by about 4,000 acre-feet, the release states.
“We’re exploring as many ways as possible to be efficient with our water supply,” said Dave Bennett, water resource manager for Denver Water. “Antero is a drought reservoir designed to provide water to our customers during a severe drought.”
Denver Water also is working closely with Parks and Wildlife to minimize fish loss during the drain, the release states.
Beginning March 20, the bag and possession limit on trout at Antero will be increased from two to eight fish with no minimum size restriction. All other fishing regulations apply.
Immediately after the ice has melted off the reservoir, Parks and Wildlife staff will trap and relocate spawning trout. Once the fish have moved off the shoreline and inlet areas, the draining of the reservoir will increase significantly.
Parks and Wildlife staff also will install a series of screens below the reservoir to capture fish as they leave the reservoir.
Beginning in April, Antero Reservoir will be open for recreational use from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset. No camping will be permitted, and only hand-launched vessels will be allowed until the reservoir is closed May 1.
“The fish relocation effort and stream flow management plan will be closely coordinated with Denver Water,” said Jeff Spohn, aquatic biologist with Parks and Wildlife. “We have come up with a plan to successfully remove as many trout out of Antero as possible to stock in other reservoirs in Park County.
“On a positive note, the water from Antero will be delivered to Cheesman at a flow rate that will benefit the wild rainbow trout fishery below Eleven Mile Reservoir.”
Drought conditions will determine when the reservoir can be refilled, the release states.
The reservoir was also taken out of service to assist with water management during the drought that began in 2002.
“We have a blueprint on how to successfully rebuild the fishery at Antero,” Spohn said in the release. “We will be putting a lot of our efforts back into the reservoir once it begins to fill again, and we hope to see similar trophy trout fishing that we saw last time the reservoir refilled.”
Wildlife concerns and questions regarding fishing at Antero can be directed to Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 303-291-7227.
For questions regarding Antero operations, contact Denver Water at 303-628-6117.
Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.