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Old 07-07-2005   #1
Mike Harvey's Avatar
Salida, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
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Confluence water quality notification?

I am doing some research for a project in Ohio that may have some water quality iussues after big rain events. I am wondering if there is any system in place in Denver where paddlers can find out if there is really poor water quality on any given day in the South Platte.

I understand that the water is never really very good down there but is there any place where someone posts information as to how bad the water is at confluence or somewhere, on a given day? Thanks...

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Old 07-07-2005   #2
DanOrion's Avatar
Indian Hills, Colorado
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Some USGS sites have limited real-time WQ data. For example:,00060
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Old 07-07-2005   #3
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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maybe this might be of some help:

It talks about a system that the Charles River Watershed Association has in place to do notify river goers (mainly touring kayakers) of the water quality - sorta a red light green light system I think.
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Old 07-07-2005   #4
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I've not heard of any real time data for water quality. The three places I would start my search would be the U. of Colorado Boulder, Denver Water Authority, and the Greenway Foundation. They are the ones that have really cleaned up the river and have studied it. Since the late 60's / mid 70's the water quality in Denver has cleaned up 2000%. What was close to being a superfund site is now a healthy happy river. Just looking at all the birds and wide life is amazing.

I think many people are so used to seeing trash or cups in the river and thinking that it's dirty. They forget what industry can do to a river. I'm from the East coast- so, moving out here I can't believe how clean the rivers are. Many folks out here just take it for granite. Lake Erie caught on fire, massive fish kills on several rivers down stream of paper plants, no living things in the rivers because of AMD, and toxic/ radioactive materials being dumped in the rivers by large companies- were all not uncommon.

Clean mountain streams are only that way because no one lives around them. For the size of the population, the amount of large industry, and the daily usage of the river the Platte is very clean. It has a lot to do with the change in environmental awareness, Clean Water Act, and the organizations like the Greenway Foundation. That takes a stance and does something about it.

Sorry for the rant, but I just can't stand it when someone makes a general statement about something they read on the net. Because, you know the readers are only going to grab on to one or two lines and remember it for a lifetime as fact.

Thanks for understanding.
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Old 07-07-2005   #5
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S. Platte River WQ

The USGS has an ongoing extensive study of the water-quality in the S. Platte River basin as part of the National Water-Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA). For more information go to

Unfortunately, at this time, the S. Platte at Denver (06714000) is not a real-time water-quality monitoring station, but ongoing water-quality data are being collected at the site and have been for some time.

Note that for a large part of the year the lower S. Platte is wastewater-effluent even though it may not 'appear' as trashed as some eastern streams there are many things that cannot be 'seen' in the water. For example, we are only beginning to study and try to understand the long-term effects of low-doses of pharmaceauticals, synthetic hormones and other household-related products on aquatic and human health. These are all part of our wastewater effluent and are, for the most part, not yet regulated. We have much to learn and understand about the fate and transport of all the things we can't readily see in our water. This issue becomes especially relevant as we send the water "downstream" to be reused for drinking water and for the fishies....

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