Jun 15, 2010 10:24 PM by Jeannette Hynes

Stormwater ditches will go without repairs

Colorado Springs Stormwater Specialist Jeff Besse inspects one of the 236 drainage areas the city has identified as needing safety repairs.  The city has labeled 52 as "high priority".

"You can see by the rebar that is exposed right there that it is in need of repair.  It's also quite dangerous.  We have rebar sticking up with the proximity to the school and the access for the kids to get right in there, this could be a potentially hazardous area," says Besse.

Five years ago, young teens Tucker Graef and Peter Carman died when they were swept away in a drainage ditch during a flash flood.  The city launched a massive educational campaign after their deaths.  The "Ditch Playing in Ditches" campaign continues, but money to fix these channels has dried up.

The Stormwater Enterprise fee funded these kinds of repairs.  Voters got rid of the enterprise in November, and the city doesn't have money in the general fund to do any repairs.  So anything that needs to be fixed won't be, unless it becomes an emergency situation.

Even without the enterprise, some say safety is the city's job.    

"I don't think it's optional whether they're going to fix the storm drains or not.  Regardless if there's a fee, I still think they need to provide that service," says Robert Coley, who lives in Colorado Springs.

It's not just about safety in the ditches, but safety around them as well.

"There aren't ample monies to fix these projects, and if we ever did have a catastrophic flood, the situation would be really really drastic," says Besse.



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