The South Platte River is one of the two principal tributaries of the Platte River. Flowing through Colorado and Nebraska, it is a major river of the American Midwest, Southwest and Mountain West. The river serves as the main source of water for eastern Colorado.
Maps of South Platte Water Basin
The South Platte River meets many needs in the Denver area. It supports aquatic, benthic, and riparian ecosystems throughout the region. The aquatic life use is a regulated use of the stream and, in many cases, results in the most stringent effluent discharge limitations at the facility.
As a major water feature in the area, many recreational activities occur on the river and its banks. These activities include water contact sports, such as boating and kayaking, some swimming, fishing, and panning for gold. The river corridor supports an extensive urban trail and park system used for walking, biking, jogging, skating, picnicking and general enjoyment by the public. The river is also a source of drinking water for downstream communities.
The water is reused several times as it flows through the Platte River system to the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The drinking water use is the basis for the many of the most stringent limitations on nitrates and organic compounds.
Agricultural uses of the river can dictate the river flow, particularly in the irrigation season. These senior water users “call” water during the drier portions of the year when crops need the moisture.
The water the South Platte Water Renewal Partners renews or “effluent” is return to the South Platte River. The SPWRP facility is located in the Upper South Platte River Basin and the Metro Water Basin as defined by the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
Renewed water makes up a large part of the river flow most of the year. Plant effluent actually exceeds normal river flow during certain times of the year. In this situation, wastewater effluent, storm water runoff, and irrigation return flows have a major impact on river water quality.
The plant operates under the conditions of a discharge permit issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The permit contains requirements on all phases of plant operations and effluent limitations that must be achieved. SPWRP is located within segment 14 of the South Platte River.
Links to Additional Resources
USGS South Platte River Site
The South Platte River Basin study, conducted as part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water-Quality Assessment Program, combines information on water chemistry, physical characteristics, stream habitat, and aquatic life to provide science-based insights for current and emerging water issues in surface waters (streams, rivers, reservoirs) and ground waters of the South Platte River Basin.
EPA Urban Waters and the South Platte Watershed
The South Platte Urban Waters Partnership is a collaboration of organizations, working across governmental and disciplinary boundaries. Their aim is to protect and restore lands and waters in the South Platte River watershed.
Colorado’s Water Plan – South Platte River Basin
The South Platte Basin Roundtable covers approximately 22,000 square miles in northeast Colorado. The largest cities in the roundtable area are Boulder, Fort Collins, Longmont and Greeley. The projected population in 2050 is estimated to almost double in size to between 1.9 and 2.6 million people.
1965 Flood of the South Platte River
The great South Platte River flood of 1965 was not Littleton’s first flood, nor only disaster — it was simply the biggest and costliest, by far.
The Greenway Foundation
The Greenway Foundation is a Denver-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has led efforts, since 1974, to reclaim the South Platte River and its tributaries from a virtual cesspool to a place of environmental and recreational pride.
South Platte River – Denver Water Report
This stretch of the South Platte River has been a popular fishing spot for decades, earning it Gold Medal Waters status by the Colorado Wildlife Commission. In the 1890s, Stephen Decker built a general store and later a saloon in this area. The South Platte Hotel, located at the confluence of the North Fork of the South Platte, was a popular resort in the early 1900s and was accessible only by train. The confluence is now a popular fishing and kayaking area.
South Platte Watershed Microbiology
A comprehensive review of microbiology in a western arid urban watershed and insight on the reasonableness of proposed stream limits for E. coli.