Two Denver Rivers Unsafe For Your Kids to Play In 

Warning Posted at Park

I went to Confluence Park today after seeing warnings on the local news about the unsafe water in the river there.  I was disappointed to see people with children playing in the water despite the warning posted near-by.  (The only informational sign at the park has the warning posted on either side of it, and could be easily missed if you aren’t specifically looking for it.) 

Measurements, taken at Confluence Park over the summer, show unsafe levels of E. coli (3 times state safety levels) from fecal contaminants.  Measurements of the South Platte indicate high levels of ammonia and the heavy metal selenium.  Cherry Creek also has unsafe levels of arsenic, a well-known poison, (50 times state safety levels) as well as high E. coli levels.  Although the rivers begin as melted snow from the Rockies, as they travel down the mountains the water picks up contaminates along the way.  Playing in either river can make you sick.  Playing at Confluence Park (where the two rivers meet) exposes you to an increased risk of illness.       

Photo taken at Confluence Park by Karen Barnhart

This is a warning to all parents:  The water in these rivers has unsafe levels of dangerous contaminants for you and your children.  Since children commonly swallow water when swimming, don’t take a chance with their health.  Instead, find alternative water activities. 

Alternative Water Activities for Hot Summer Days: 

  • Go to a local public swimming pool
  • Play in a small wading pool in your own backyard
  • Have a water gun fight
  • Get a bucket, wash the car, and get wet while you clean
  • Visit a local park with water features (Ex: Great Plains Park in Aurora  , Civic Green Park in Highlands Ranch,  and the H2Odyssey Interactive Fountains in City Park of Denver)  

*For those who still insist on swimming in the contaminated river water, environmental safety workers advise washing your hands immediately after swimming. 

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