COLORADO — You’ll notice road closures on Pikes Peak Mountain starting June 1st. That’s because of repairs happening at Crystal Creek Reservoir, which is 4.5 miles from the entrance. Weekday traffic will be limited to one lane on this section of the highway through October.
Crystal Creek is one of three reservoirs that store drinking water on the North Slope for Colorado Springs. Crystal Creek Reservoir was constructed in 1935 and is unique because of its steel face. There are only five dams like this across Colorado.
“It’s waterproofed with a steel face on the upstream side. When the dam was built, the steel plates were welded together to make a continuous face for waterproofing,” said Brian McCormick, Senior Engineer with Colorado Springs Utilities.
Crystal Creek is an essential part of Colorado Springs’ water supply. Water from winter snowmelt is held here before the city takes it to the treatment plant and onto our taps. So you can think of it as a big water tank. The city is using other reservoirs to store water while maintenance is done here.
“We have enough water tanks in our water system that we can take one down for maintenance. We’d be in trouble if we couldn’t take one down for maintenance work,” said McCormick.
The repair project will prevent rusting within the reservoir, upgrade it to meet modern-day standards and keep it running as part of Colorado Springs’ water storage.
“Every few decades these dams need maintenance, primarily paint. So this project will put a fresh coat of paint on the dam, replace the valves and get things in good shape for the next 85 years,” said McCormick.
Crystal Creek Reservoir is one of the five largest in Colorado Springs’ water storage chain. It makes up 1/6 of the water storage on Pikes Peak.
“Colorado Springs Utilities uses reservoirs to store water from the time period when it’s available, when the snow melts in the Spring, to when it’s needed. The irrigation season through the summer and into the Fall,” said McCormick. “We also have north and south Catamount reservoir. Both of those are full and they are open for recreation and fishing.”
Pikes Peak highways runs over the crest of Crystal Creek. It covers 136 acres and has more than 3 miles of shoreline in Pike National Forest. Crystal Creek is expected to be refilled for Spring 2022 and Colorado Parks and Wildlife plans to restock it with game fish.
The reservoir will be closed to boating and shoreline fishing during the maintenance period, although designated area trails will remain accessible. Visitors are asked to stay out of fenced construction areas and away from construction vehicles.