Big Thompson River: Twilight for the Idylwilde Dam #COflood

Idylwilde Dam via Loveland Water and Power

From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Jessica Maher):

In a resolution added to Tuesday’s special meeting of the Loveland City Council, councilors voted unanimously to authorize negotiations with Kiewit Corp., the contractor selected by the Colorado Department of Transportation for the U.S. 34 reconstruction project.

The agreement will include demolishing and disposing of the Idylwilde Dam. The silt, sand, cobbles and boulders now located behind the dam would go to Kiewit for much-needed project material.

Loveland Water and Power Director Steve Adams said he worked last week with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Forest Service to fast track approvals needed to move forward with negotiations.

“We felt like this is an opportunity that presents itself to us and we wanted to take advantage of it,” Adams said. “We feel like the dam has been compromised — it was compromised in its reconstruction by a quarter of it not being anchored to bedrock — and this was even more evidence to us that the dam should be removed for safety purposes and also to help the reconstruction effort.”[…]

The Idylwilde Dam went online in 1925 and was at that time the power plant for the city. It generates about 900 kW, which is now a fraction of what Loveland Water and Power now produces, and the facility was used in recent years to help reduce the city’s costs when the Platte River Power Authority hit its peak demand.

The dam area represents about 100,000 cubic yards that contractor could use to help reconstruct the highway, according to Adams, who said the city has been in contact with Kiewit Corp officials.

From the Longmont Times-Call (Tony Kindelspire):

Longmont homeowners will see an increase in their average monthly utility bills of about 12 1/2 percent starting Dec. 1, according to votes passed Tuesday night by the Longmont City Council. Primarily because of stormwater and parks and greenway maintenance fee increases, Longmont residents’ utility fees will soon be $153 a month, up from $136 a month. The Longmont City Council voted unanimously to increase stormwater fees to $13.60 a month, which is nearly double what was proposed by the city’s public works and natural resources department. That increase — ironically — included flood control measures on stretches of the St. Vrain River.

Dale Rademacher, director of public works and natural resources, said the preliminary cost estimate of total damage to the river is about $80 million.

Barbara McGrane, the business manager for the public works department, told council that the city originally had planned $470,000 in capital projects for 2014. Post-flood, that figure is now about $3.6 million, she said. Federal Emergency Management Agency funds will reimburse the city for a portion of the needed repairs, but how much remains to be seen, McGrane said.

“We don’t really know yet what FEMA is going to want us to do with the river, but the riverbed repairs — big dollars,” McGrane said.

From The Denver Post (Electa Draper):

Garbage day after the Colorado floods is turning apocalyptic. The potential volume of flood debris is mind-blowing, given preliminary estimates of more than 1,800 homes destroyed and more than 16,000 damaged and full of soggy ruins.

State regulators are working on waivers for safety and environmental standards at landfills so they can handle the toxic mounds of refuse heaped in city drop-off sites and piled in debris fields along creeks and rivers.

Earlier this week, traffic leading to dumps, including two in Erie, was so heavy that haulers pulled out of long lines in frustration with wait times.

“It’s been wild,” said Dan Gudgel, division manager for Waste Connections, which runs the Erie landfills. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of rain here — 15 to 20 inches — and we drive on soil. We struggled Monday, but now we’re going full-bore.”

Heaps of ruined possessions are an immediate threat to public health, but they also are constant reminders of the disaster and are among the biggest obstacles to economic recovery and a restored sense of well-being, FEMA spokesman Jerry DeFelice said.

“At the forefront of recovery is debris removal,” DeFelice said.

FEMA reformed policies for helping communities with the high cost of cleanup after Hurricane Sandy, now offering reimbursement along a sliding scale for speedy removal — in excess of 75 percent of eligible costs.

“The idea is to give communities incentives to plan for disaster cleanup,” DeFelice said.

The Colorado counties so far eligible for this type of FEMA assistance are those hardest hit — Adams, Boulder, Larimer and Weld — among 17 flooded counties. The volume of refuse the cleanup will generate is impossible to estimate, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials said.

Waste Connections — which operates the adjacent Denver Regional and Front Range landfills in Erie — has sent out several hundred 30- to 40-cubic-yard roll-off trash containers to storm- wrecked communities. A half dozen other companies have placed hundreds more containers.

The huge debris-filled bins are due back soon, perhaps at the end of this week, Gudgel said.

“The order of magnitude here is unreal. I couldn’t begin to guess at an amount,” Gudgel said. “I worked back east, with debris from tornadoes and ice storms, but this is unbelievable.”

It’s also impossible to determine the health risks of muck-coated possessions, including some contamination by raw sewage and now mold.

Hard-hit homeowners vouch that the yuck factor is off the charts.

“There are a lot of people who are going to be involved with this (cleanup),” said Roger Doka, CDPHE’s solid-waste permitting unit leader. “We are meeting with our water quality, hazardous waste and air pollution divisions and with local governments.”

Flood-damaged furnishings and other possessions on private property are the responsibility of the property owner, said Colorado Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Micki Trost.

But with whole houses collapsed into waterways, propane tanks hissing down fast-moving creeks and unidentifiable objects bobbing along or deposited along stream banks, local governments aren’t sure when they’ll get on top of this mountain of debris.

Larimer County hasn’t had a break in disaster-generated debris since the 2012 High Park fire, county

Mark Taylor helps neighbors unload flood-damaged belongings Wednesday at a dump in Boulder, where residents started to clean up from last week’s massive flooding. (RJ Sangosti, T he Denver Post)
recovery manager Suzanne Bassinger said. Residents there were given three years from the date of the fire’s containment, June 30, 2012, to remove charred materials from their properties. Fire debris has been washing down creeks for months in post-fire flooding previous to last week’s catastrophic flooding in northeastern Colorado.
“We’ve never really had any let-up,” Bassinger said.

In Boulder County, emergency managers are still focused on evacuating people and using resources to carve routes to stranded communities.

“You are asking ‘the recovery question.’ We’re still trying to get our hands around that,” Boulder Office of Emergency Management spokesman Ben Pennymon said.

Managers from different departments are beginning to form a team to coordinate cleanup, he said.

But Boulder residents already are dumping around the clock into containers at 21 collection sites — even burying and surrounding them with trash. Crews are working around the clock to haul full containers away but are struggling to keep up.

The state health department is working to develop waivers that will allow landfills to accept some amounts of typically prohibited materials, such as asbestos-contaminated construction debris, Doka said.

“Every landfill has the right of refusal for materials,” Doka said. “But they all are positioning themselves to accept flood debris. I’ve contacted all of the landfills in the area to ask about air space — or how much room they have. They all say they have adequate space.”

Yet it could turn out that some landfill operators will have to excavate additional cells, he said.

Gudgel said the Erie landfills have room — including a new $2.5 million cell (a large hole for waste lined with clay and plastic and graded so fluids drain out). Work began on it earlier this summer and could be completed in a few weeks.

The Erie landfills have a remaining life expectancy of 40 years, he said, and he doesn’t think the flooding will significantly diminish that.

“We’ve got room,” Gudgel said.

Leave a Reply