Pueblo: New FEMA floodplain map

A picture named southplatteflood.jpg

Here’s an update on the new FEMA floodplain map for Pueblo, from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“We’re in the business of assessing risk and formulating maps that reflect that,” said Ryan Pietramali, FEMA regional risk analysis chief.

Pueblo City Council, in a workshop this week, learned that the new maps could widen the 100-year-flood plain shown on current maps, which date from 1986, primarily because of conditions on Wild Horse Dry Creek. The creek has levees built 80 years ago, but the problem may be deeper than that, since the levees don’t cover the length of the creek, which drains a wide area northwest of Pueblo, including parts of Pueblo West and a corner of Fort Carson. Levees also are on the Arkansas River and Fountain Creek. The levees must be certified in order to be included on FEMA maps, but FEMA does not do the certification. That responsibility rests with the Army Corps of Engineers, at the expense of local agencies. Engineers are assessing the hydrology, or volume of water, and hydraulics, or structures in the flood plain, to determine the probability of future floods…

By fall, FEMA hopes to have a preliminary map, which could be changed with scientific evidence. “These are preliminary maps,” Pietramali said, saying FEMA would use whatever engineering data is available from the city of Pueblo, Fountain Creek study groups or the Pueblo Conservancy District, which operates the Arkansas River levees. “One of the things we want to do is accurately convey the risk.” Pietramali said the intent of the newest effort, launched by Congress in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, is to digitalize FEMA maps. The digitalization will allow FEMA to reflect future changes, meaning Pueblo would not be stuck with outdated information even after maps are finalized. After the preliminary maps are presented, there will be several opportunities for more public input, he added. There also is a formal appeals process that has been used sparingly, so far – one appeal out of 180 current projects, Pietramali said.

Leave a Reply