As flows drop in the Arkansas River, CPW lifts restrictions on recreational uses

 A significant drop in the intensity of flows in the Arkansas RIver below the Lake Pueblo State Park dam led Colorado Parks and Wildlife on Thursday to lift restrictions on recreational use of the river within the park.

CPW manages recreation within the lake and for about 1½ miles of river below the dam.

The Pueblo Fire Department and the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office manage the remainder of the river east of the park. Those agencies imposed bans on recreation in the river after recent high water and those bans remained in effect Thursday.

All three agencies, however, continue to urge caution by people in and near the river.

“The water being released from the dam is starting to calm down, making it safer for people to fish and tube in the tailwaters below the Lake Pueblo dam,” said Joe Stadterman, CPW’s park manager at Lake Pueblo.

“But we urge everyone to remain vigilant and wear life jackets. Although water flows are slowing down, they remain strong and cold. People need to respect the river and wear life jackets whenever they are in the water or even fishing along its shores.”

The Arkansas River is currently flowing at just over 4,300 cubic feet per second, which reflects spring snowmelt in the mountains. The water is about 55 degrees, which can trigger hypothermic shock from sudden immersion, such as someone falling in the river.

“This announcement doesn’t mean everyone can relax,” Stadterman said. “It means the water is getting back to normal but people still need to take precautions and protect themselves.”

Pueblo Fire and the Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office are evaluating whether to relax their bans on recreation. And the agencies will continue to monitor the river flows and coordinate the reopening of the river when the water flows return to a safe level.

For future updated information, please follow the Pueblo Fire Department and Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office social media channels of Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram.

CPW manages recreation at Lake Pueblo in partnership with its owner, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The bureau built Lake Pueblo in 1970-75 as part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas water diversion, storage and delivery project. It provides West Slope water to upwards of 1 million Front Range residents, primarily in southeastern Colorado, as well as agricultural irrigation.