News Flash

Summit County Government

Posted on: June 2, 2017

Sheriff's Office Urges Caution During Spring Runoff

Photo of a river with heavy whitewater.

High water levels can pose safety hazards for boaters, drivers, children and pets


Erin Opsahl, Public Information Officer

Summit County Sheriff’s Office


SUMMIT COUNTY – With river flows on the rise, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office reminds residents and visitors to be mindful of high water levels throughout the area. Waterways in and around Summit County can be dangerous this time of year, as the spring snowmelt peaks.

“Unfortunately, we see people getting in over their heads every year during the spring runoff,” Special Operations Sgt. Mark Watson said. “Over the past week, we’ve started to see a real uptick in the volume of water that’s flowing through our local rivers and streams. Everyone needs to treat these waterways with respect and caution.”

As of June 2, the Blue River was running at 377 cubic feet per second (cfs) below Dillon Reservoir, and Tenmile Creek was running at about 400 cfs below North Tenmile Creek.

When participating in outdoor activities on or near the water this spring, the Sheriff’s Office urges people to be cautious of fast currents caused by elevated flows. It’s especially dangerous for children and pets playing along the shores of fast-moving water, as they can easily slip on wet, muddy banks and be swept away.

The Sheriff’s Office strongly discourages people from any recreational activities in the water without proper training, experience and equipment.

“Last year, a group of young women from a bachelorette party decided to take some toy rafts down Tenmile Creek, and none of them were wearing life jackets,” Sgt. Watson said. “The rafts made it to Frisco Marina. The women did not. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but they were extremely lucky in that regard.”

Stream flows are likely to be especially high during extended periods of warm, sunny weather and during prolonged rain events. Flows in some stretches are also influenced by the release of water from dams. Summit County’s rivers and streams typically experience peak flows during late May through mid-June.

The Sheriff’s Office recommends the following guidelines to stay safe around high water:

  • If flooding occurs, get to higher ground immediately.
  • Stay away from flood-prone areas, including dips, low spots, valleys, ditches, washes, etc.
  • Avoid flooded areas and those with fast-moving water. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. Six inches of moving water is all it takes to sweep a person off his or her feet.
  • Don’t allow children or pets to play near high water, storm drains, culverts or ditches.
  • Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. Never drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads. If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. It only takes two feet of water to carry away most automobiles.
  • Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams and washes, particularly when water levels are high or fluctuating.
  • When recreating in or around the water, use the proper size and type of personal floatation device (PFD, or life jacket).
  • Fishermen should wear wading belts to prevent water from entering waders during a fall.
  • Be especially cautious at night, when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
  • Monitor NOAA Weather Radio or your local media for vital weather-related information.

For more information about swift-water safety and flood preparedness, visit


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