From the Denver Business Journal (Ed Sealover):
The state has about $400 million in its general fund reserve — an undesignated fund set aside for unexpected expenses. Gov. John Hickenlooper accessed it to help in the fighting and clean-up of the wildfires that devastated Colorado in 2012. And the governor pushed successfully for the Legislature to grow the fund from 4 percent to 5 percent of the state’s budget over the past two years, saying it would buffer the government against events outside of the state’s control.
Meanwhile, Colorado also has $32 million in its TABOR reserves — money required by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights to be set aside specifically for emergencies such as this flooding, said Sen. Pat Steadman, a Denver Democrat and chairman of the Joint Budget Committee. At times over the past 10 years, the state set aside the value of buildings to cover its required TABOR reserves, meaning it would have had to sell off property to access any of the funds. However, the Legislature has refilled most of that fund with cash in recent years, meaning it can be tapped if needed, Steadman said.
Questions remain, however, on how much the state’s general fund will have to pay toward the clean-up, noted Steadman, who was on a tour of state prisons with other JBC members Monday. Officials are expecting a lot of help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and much of the money for repairing roads washed away by the flooding will come through the federal government directly to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Meanwhile, the flooding caused a shutdown of Aurora’s Prairie Waters well field near Brighton. Here’s a report from The Denver Post (Carlos Illescas):
Four of the facility’s 17 wells where water is siphoned from the South Platte River in Brighton were flooded, said [Greg Baker].
With good weather and temperatures in the 80s, Aurora Water crews were busy Tuesday inspecting the system. Baker said the wells that were underwater will have to be disinfected, but that is not uncommon when heavy rainfall has the potential to contaminate the water supply.
The facility was shut down mainly as a precautionary measure, to ensure that any contamination that spilled into the South Platte would not reach Aurora’s water supply, Baker said. He didn’t know when the facility, which pipes water from the north to a treatment facility near Aurora Reservoir, will be back up and running.
It’s a matter of need, and right now, people aren’t watering their lawns and the demand for water isn’t high either, he said. It is turned off during the winter, he said.
From The Denver Post (David Olinger):
The Colorado Department of Transportation’s immediate goal is winter survival in towns built along roads curling beside canyon rivers and creeks.
Last week’s deluge left little time this year to rebuild 18 state and federal highways partly closed by flooding. Asphalt and concrete become hard to pour below about 40 to 50 degrees, and snow often reaches the northern foothills in October.
With winter coming, “our goal is to get to where people can go from A to Z” on a patchwork of roads, said Tim Harris, the department’s chief engineer…
Harris listed six canyon highways in Boulder and Larimer counties as highest priorities: U.S. 34 and 36, and Colorado 7, 14, 72 and 119. But “out east, we certainly can’t ignore those either,” he said…
The long list of Colorado highways closed by flooding ranges from Sterling on the Eastern Plains to Walden west of the Continental Divide.
As a result, the permanent repair projects “could even extend beyond 2014,” said Mindy Crane, a transportation department spokeswoman…
The epicenter of flood damage lies along a triangle of highways — U.S. 34 and 36 and Colorado 7 — linking Boulder, Loveland and Lyons to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Those roads carry an average of 24,000 to 39,000 cars per day. All are extensively damaged with closed stretches, leaving people in mountain towns no easy way out.
Colorado floodwaters a toxic stew of oil, sewage, chemicals: http://t.co/6D9AVUSfbe
— Shaun McKinnon (@shaunmckinnon) September 19, 2013
Oil spill along St. Vrain River near Platteville now at 13,500 gallons http://t.co/lZoULYBUp8
— Denver Post Breaking (@DenverPostBrk) September 19, 2013
Updated number of unaccounted is 139. We now have 3 missing, presumed dead with addition of 46-year-old Drake man whose house washed away.
— Larimer Sheriff (@LarimerSheriff) September 19, 2013
Photos of the Day: Boulder County roads the flood hit hardest http://t.co/z21UT1qPFm
— DenverWestword (@DenverWestword) September 19, 2013
— Longmont Times-Call (@TimesCall) September 19, 2013
NEWS: Despite floods, drought conditions still persist in more than half of Colorado. Rainfall was geographically… http://t.co/RmXTzoqVaa
— Western Resource Adv (@wradv) September 19, 2013