Dillon Dam Road closure unleashes flood of protest by politicians

The Summit Daily News in Frisco seems to be out-reporting the Denver dailies on last week’s surprise closure by the Denver Water Board of Summit County’s critical Dillon Dam Road.


In a well-researched article (assuming it’s accurate) in Monday’s Summit Daily, reporter Robert Allen notes that of the nation’s 79,500 dams, only 45 have ever failed, and none due to terrorism. A potential terrorist strike, although they cited no imminent threat, was the reason Denver Water gave for shutting down the road, one of only three east-west routes in the county.


Emergency responders use the road above the factory-outlet, car-dealership town of Silverthorne as one of the quickest ways to get to accidents, especially in the winter when Interstate 70 often shuts down due to bad weather and jackknifed semi tractor-trailers. Needless to say, county officials were a bit miffed by the lack of notice, and so began a series of demonstrations and a wave of public protest.


The issue quickly became politicized late last week, with state reps and county commissioners blasting Denver and its water board, but the massive Lake Dillon is Denver’s top water supply and the board has the right to shut down the road in emergencies. Summit County on Friday sued the water board to reopen the road.


Comments on articles posted on The Summit Daily and Denver newspaper Web sites have run the gamut from blaming the Bush administration’s overreaction and overstepping in the wake of 9/11, to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) coming to town and Democrats imposing their political will on the downtrodden residents of the high country. Locally, a few posters suggested people protest by peeing in Denver’s drinking water and sending a strong message downstream.

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail and Real Aspen.

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