Fountain Creek: Sediment collector project rolled out Friday, Union Pacific will remove part of abandoned trestle over the creek

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The railroad will take out six spans — the iron and lumber that form a deck across the creek — by May. The city of Pueblo would be responsible for the iron truss bridge on the west side, Pueblo stormwater consultant Dennis Maroney told the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District board Friday.

He said the Technology Test Center may be interested in taking out the truss section of the bridge as a training exercise, but those talks are still in progress. “The piers would remain in the river,” Maroney said, adding they do not represent a serious impediment to flows.

The fear is that during a major flood the bridge would act as a dam as debris from upstream clogged the passage. That would cause water to back up over levees and flood commercial or residential areas…

The city of Pueblo, Pueblo County, the Fountain Creek district and numerous state and federal agencies launched a demonstration project Friday of an in-stream sediment collector that could be a less expensive alternative to dredging, if the technology works as advertised.

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The name [Dirt-A-Tracter] for a sediment collector in Fountain Creek was chosen by children at the Boys & Girls Club, beating out “Hoovanator” and “Dr. Sandy Cheeks” in a contest sponsored by the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District…

Basically, it works by attracting sand and small gravel that fall through a screen and are extracted with a pump to a storage site by the side of the creek…

The collector is equipped with a variable speed motor capable of pumping up to 800 gallons per minute of slurry that is 30 to 60 percent solids. A mining screw and conveyor belt pile up material pumped from the collector, while a second hose returns water to the collector. At maximum capacity, the collector is capable of removing 130 12-yard truckloads of sediment in a 24-hour period. Of course, it won’t be operated 24 hours a day, and flows will vary. One purpose of the yearlong project is to see how it performs under various conditions, and engineers were hoping for a cloudburst later in the afternoon. “Really, it will produce only what the river delivers,” said Streamside Systems CEO Randy Tucker.

More coverage from John Schroyer writing for The Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

The machine, which took only three months to construct, is surprisingly simple — as creek water passes through a bottleneck in the creek, sediment is sucked down out into a pipe and then carried roughly 600 feet away from the creek, where it’s piled and then lugged away by dump trucks.

The point, said Fountain Creek Watershed Executive Director Larry Small, is to prevent sediment from building up at any one place. In the past, sediment buildup has led to flash flooding, which happens when a sudden rush of water down the creek is diverted into a neighborhood or town…

The $836,000 machine is the result of a partnership between Pueblo, Pueblo County and the Fountain Creek Watershed. All three had a hand in the design, construction and implementation of the Dirt Attractor.

Of the cost, $353,000 was covered by Colorado Springs Utilities, which paid $2.2 million to the county of Pueblo as part of the deal to allow it to build the Southern Delivery System, said Pueblo’s Assistant City Manager Scott Hobson.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment chipped in another $250,000, and the city of Pueblo paid the rest, said Hobson. The city also will supervise the ongoing operation of the Dirt Attractor and pay its electricity bill.

The machine will require minimal oversight and will operate almost exclusively via electronic monitors that sense the water level of the creek.

The Dirt Attractor also has environmental benefits, said Hobson. The sediment pulled from the creek probably will be used by the city’s wastewater plant to dilute the chemical content of the plant’s leftover “sludge.” That way, the material can be reused naturally instead of buried in a landfill.

More Fountain Creek coverage here.

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