Alamosa: Levee recertification

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Here’s an update on the recertification of Alamosa’s levees along the Rio Grande River through town, from Matt Hildner writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

To come into compliance with new rules governing the maintenance of the levees, the city would have to make a number of improvements, including the removal of hundreds of trees and other vegetation along the roughly four-mile barrier. Not making the repairs would mean the federal government no longer would repair the levee following a flood. It also might lead to the reclassification of flood insurance ratings for some residents, who currently are not required to buy mandatory flood insurance from the federal government. Following a tour of the levee with Army Corps officials, Mayor Farris Bervig said Tuesday that the city likely would try to get the levee recertified. “There’s too many unanswerables in that to not have the levee recertified,” he said.

The agency’s new rules have tabooed trees such as the cottonwoods and willows, which sit atop the levee in spots and and within 15 feet of the base of it in many other areas. Tree roots are considered a hazard to the levee because they serve as conduits for water to weaken the barrier’s structure. The burrows created by rodents such as the beaver, which were seen during Tuesday’s tour, likewise threaten a levee’s stability. Pressurized water sprinkler systems also pose a risk if their pipes burst and lead to erosion below ground. How to deal with houses that impinge on the levee would be another matter…

Any removal of trees might require consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since the trees form part of the habitat for the southwestern willow flycatcher, an endangered bird, said City Manager Nathan Cherpeski. While an easement through private property allowed the levees to be built and provides access for maintenance, a number of trees that don’t fit the agency’s new guidelines sit on private property.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

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