Jan 9, 2014 12:12 AM by Tony Spehar -

Engineers present flood prevention options in Manitou Springs

It could cost millions for Manitou Springs to clean-up flood damage and take preventative measures to stop future damage according to information given out by water engineers at a community meeting on Wednesday evening.

For months now Fountain Creek has been flowing calmly through Manitou Springs, it's almost hard to imagine it's the same creek that flooded numerous times over the summer. The signs of this summer's flash flooding off the Waldo Canyon Burn Scar are still there though, a muddy line still marks how high water rose in the basement of Commonwheel Artists Co-Op on Canon Avenue.

"First one was lesser, the second one decimated our basement," Roger Tolzman, one of the artists at the co-op, described. "It took a long time to shovel it out, sort of 5-gallon bucket by 5-gallon bucket."

The effect on business was just as bad.

"We haven't done our year-end figures yet, but we did lose about a month of sales just because we were closed and then of course they wanted to make sure that it was inspected before we returned," Tolzman explained.

Tolzman is just one of many in Manitou Springs concerned about what is being done while the weather is calm to prevent future damage. Ian Paton, of Wright Water Engineers, has been hired by the city to give leaders options to reduce the risk of flooding.

"Taking a look at a big picture of Fountain Creek and all the sediment material that's been deposited this past summer," Paton said.

One of the big concerns, Paton explained, is the amount of sediment and debris that's collected at the bottom of the creek. In some places the creek is much shallower than it was before the flash floods, which can lead to the creek being more flood prone. Paton and other engineers have suggested building catches to collect sediment and debris upstream from the city, they also suggested flood proofing more buildings and installing barriers to control water flow. The work doesn't come without risks, more 100 or 1000-year storms could fill the creek back up with sediment.

"The burn area is still there, it's still going to continue to have elevated run-off compared to normal conditions," explained Paton.

Those potentially in the path of future flood waters, like Roger Tolzman, say they hope something can be done and soon. He said and his partners may have to move out of their building.

"We have to consider all options, I know some of our neighbors have looked into that too," Tolzman said.

City leaders at Wednesday's meeting said funding flood prevention projects could be very difficult, the city is applying for grants from the government to help cut costs.


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