Fountain Creek: ‘Clearly, our work is not done’ — Helen Migchelbrink (Colorado Springs Public Works)


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Last summer’s Waldo Canyon Fire may rearrange funding priorities for stormwater containment in El Paso County, but downstream interests still are pushing Colorado Springs to honor its past commitments. A stormwater task force formed in August is trying to sort out funding resources and needs throughout the Fountain Creek watershed by January, in an effort to begin addressing massive needs that total more than $500 million.

“Clearly, our work is not done,” said Helen Migchelbrink, Colorado Springs director of public works. “Next year, we have $28 million worth of work to do. We’re going to be looking at more creative solutions.” The Waldo Canyon Fire, which burned more than 18,000 acres, has increased potential flood severity on both the Upper Fountain and Monument Creek.

That’s a good start, said Pueblo County Commissioner Jeff Chostner, who attended the task force meeting to make sure that past commitments by Colorado Springs are not simply shifted into the stormwater category. He also urged the task force to coordinate its efforts with the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District. “How does this fit in with the Pueblo County 1041 permit for Southern Delivery System?” he asked at the meeting.

Gary Bostrom, chief of water services for Colorado Springs Utilities, assured Chostner the $75 million for sewer line fortification and $50 million for flood control on Fountain Creek remain separate commitments.

Colorado Springs on Friday released a broad outline of $27.7 million in projects next year that involve stormwater control or planning. That follows the task force’s line of reasoning in getting all El Paso County communities to identify resources.

The group also is looking back, trying to determine what the nowdefunct stormwater enterprise accomplished — watershed planning, project priorities and maintenance activities — when it was funded from 2007­09.

More coverage from Amy Gillentine writing for the Colorado Springs Business Journal. Here’s an excerpt:

The money ($27.7 million) will be spent on:

– $ 2 million in capital projects funding, including the Mirage channel near Rampart High School and Cottonwood creek grade-control structures between Academy and Union.

– $2.09 million transferred from the now-defunct Springs Ranch General Improvement District. The money will be used for two detention ponds north of Woodmen Road.

– $3 millionfrom a pre-disaster mitigation grant for the Greencrest Channel. The project will stabilize the channel in order to allow the Austin Bluffs project to move forward. Widening Austin Bluffs west of Academy will be paid for through money from the Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority.

– $3 million pre-disaster mitigation grant for Cottonwood Creek at Vincent Drive. The project will stabilize the creek, protecting the Vincent Drive bridge upgrade.

– $509,500 for street division operations and maintenance.

– $980,000 for salaries and benefits for the public works and city engineer’s stormwater staff.

– $592,315 for public works and city engineering stormwater operations, including expenses.

In addition, the city will use money from grants related to the Waldo Canyon fire to mitigate stormwater issues in the burned area:

– $461,547 National Resources Conservation Service – Emergency Watershed Protection Program grant for Navigators.

– $75,000 National Resources Conservation Service – Emergency Watershed Protection Program grant for Flying W Ranch.

– $30,000 2012 fire relief fund grant for debris racks south Douglas Creek.

– $25,000 2012 fire relief fund grant for the spillway at Autism Pond.

– $24,795 Colorado Post – Wildfire Flooding Early Warning Grant (Camp Creek).

Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) proposed 2013 budget items related to Stormwater Management:

– $6.2 million for storm runoff mitigation for fire impacts.

– $2.7 million to protect utilities infrastructure.

– $1.5 million for proactive watershed management.

Update: From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Last summer’s Waldo Canyon Fire has pulled in resources for dealing with stormwater in Colorado Springs, but more needs to be done for impacts of development on Fountain Creek, an area water leader said Thursday.

“Colorado Springs is about to learn what sediment is, but those of us downstream have been dealing with it for 100 years,” said Jay Winner, manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District. “We will do everything we can to help with the impacts of the Waldo Canyon Fire, but Colorado Springs has to live up to its commitments on Fountain Creek.”

Lower Ark and Colorado Springs officials plan to meet next week to talk about resolving differences between the two entities dating to 2005. Both have been in contact with the Bureau of Reclamation regarding the Lower Ark’s request in August to reopen an environmental impact statement on the Southern Delivery System. The original EIS, as well as Pueblo County’s 1041 permit for SDS, included.

More stormwater coverage here and here.

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