Hot Sulphur Springs stops water intake from Colorado River

Debris and muddy waters in the Colorado River on Saturday night at the Hot Sulphur Springs bridge. Hot Sulphur Springs shut off its intake from the river and is asking residents to conserve water for the next 48 hours.
Terry Weimer

Update Aug. 3: The Hot Sulphur Springs Public Works Department has resumed intake from the Colorado River, after stopping Saturday evening because of water turbidity.

Hot Sulphur Mayor Bob McVay said the town was able to resume water intake late Sunday night when the river cleared up. The town never ran out of stored water and water was never unsafe.

Hot Sulphur will continue to watch the Colorado River during storms and flooding events.

Original: The Hot Sulphur Springs Public Works Department is notifying all residents to limit water usage to essential functions after turbidity in the Colorado River caused the town to shut off the intake plant.

Around 10 p.m. Saturday, the town turned off the intake plant which means the water storage tank is not being refilled. The town emphasized conservation for the next 48 hours.

“The river turned black on us last night,” Hot Sulphur Springs Water Plant operator Philip McElroy said.

Rain over the East Troublesome Fire burn scar has caused flooding, mudslides and debris flow for several weekends. Hot Sulphur Springs Mayor Bob McVay said he had never seen the river so dark and ashy, noting many creeks that feed into the river run through the burn scar.

“The heavy rains yesterday must have gone right over the burn scar and muddied up the creeks, bringing the bad water down the river,” McVay said. “You can’t make water out of black water.”

Luckily, the town’s water storage was full when the intake had to be turned off and McElroy said the town’s water has no safety or health concerns.

As of Sunday morning, the Colorado River was starting to clear up and McVay was hopeful the intake could be turned on by Sunday afternoon.

In the meantime, the town has tankers hauling water from an alternate source on their way to start refilling the storage by noon on Monday.

Hot Sulphur water system users were notified of the shut-off via CodeRED on Saturday evening. To sign up for CodeRED, go to

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from Hot Sulphur Springs Mayor Bob McVay and water plant operator Philip McElroy.

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