Nov 14, 2012 12:29 AM by Andy Koen
The City of Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs Utilities have agreed to spend close to $28 million on on stormwater improvement projects in 2013. It's a sizeable amount that points the community in the right direction when it comes to improving an aging drainage system.
But the erosion threat created by the Waldo Canyon Fire could make stormwater a much more urgent issue for years to come.
As an example, city stormwater manager Tim Mitros points to the major damage to the North Douglas Creek Channel which runs along the southern edge of Ute Valley Park. A gaping sink hole as much as 125 feet across sits right in the middle of the channel.
"We're starting to see more of this type of damage," Mitros said.
The channel sends runoff from the Mountain Shadows area through the city into Fountain Creek. Mitros says it's urgent that the channel be repaired before the spring.
"What happened is because of the Waldo Fire, what used to be a 10 year storm is more like a 100 year storm," he said. "We're expecting a lot more volume of water coming down these channels."
The project is one of more than a dozen that will be repaired next year thanks to the financial commitment. However, the erosion threat posed by waldo canyon doesn't end at the city limits.
El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark points out damage created by a single thunderstorm back on July 30 as evidence of the need for cooperation among the many communities in the Pikes Peak Region in addressing stormwater needs. The storm caused a mudslide that closed US Hwy 24 and damaged homes near Cascade.
It also created erosion near Rainbow Falls that shifted the flow of Fountain Creek and threatened to wash out part of the highway from beneath.
"I think the concern is that what runs downhill will threaten the City of Manitou," Clark said.
She says the county has just as big of a backlog in stormwater projects as the city and believes the needs of both communites can be met through collaboration.
Some of that collaboration has already begun. Planners from all of the local governments are currently making "wish lists" of stormwater projects. Once the list is complete and the total cost is known, discussions can begin on how to best pay for it. That master list is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
A dollar by dollar breakdown of the projects for 2013 is as follows:
- $2,000,000 for the Mirage channel near Rampart High School and Cottonwood Creek grade control structures between Academy and Union
- $2,095,350 one time transfer from Springs Ranch General Improvement District to be used for two detention ponds north of Woodmen Road
- $3,000,000 in a matching pre-disaster mitigation grant for the Greencrest Channel. The project will stabilize the channel in order to facilitate the PPRTA Austin Bluffs widening project west of Academy Boulevard.
- $3,000,000 in a second matching pre-disaster mitigation grant for Cottonwood Creek at Vincent Drive. This project will stabilize Cottonwood Creek and protect the recent Vincent Drive Bridge upgrade.
- $509,500 Street Division operations and maintenance.
- $980,000 salaries and benefits for Public Works/City Engineering Stormwater staff.
- $592,315 for Public Works/City Engineering stormwater operations
Total 2013 Stormwater expenditures for the city: $14,177,165
Stormwater related grants received after the Waldo Canyon Fire are as follows:
- $461,547 grant from the National Resources Conservation Service - Emergency Watershed Protection (NRCS EWP) for Navigators (75 percent) $153,849 match (25 percent).
- $75,000 NRCS EWP grant for Flying W (75 percent) $25,000 match (25 percent).
- $30,000 2012 fire relief fund grant (debris racks south Douglas Creek).
- $25,000 2012 fire relief fund grant (spillway at Autism Pond).
- $24,795 Colorado Post - Wildfire Flooding Early Warning Grant (Camp Creek).
Total use of proposed 2013 Stormwater expenditures due to Waldo impacts $795,191
Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) proposed 2013 budget items related to Stormwater Management are as follows:
- $6,200,000 Storm Runoff Mitigation for Fire Impacts.
- $2,700,000 Protecting Utilities Infrastructure
- $2,400,000 Fountain Creek Channel Realignment
- $1,500,000 Proactive Watershed Management
- $12,800,000 Total CSU 2013 budget related to Stormwater $12,800,000
Grand Total $27,772,356