Fountain Creek: ‘We certainly have to plan for more than a 10-20 year event’ — Dennis Hisey

Fountain Creek Watershed via the Colorado Springs Gazette
Fountain Creek Watershed via the Colorado Springs Gazette

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A special district formed to improve Fountain Creek should be looking at what it would take to build a large flood control dam, officials from two counties agreed Thursday.

“I don’t think it’s too early to begin looking at a dam, when you look at the events up north,” Pueblo County Commissioner Sal Pace said during a workshop with El Paso County and Colorado Springs officials.

Smaller retention ponds in Boulder and Larimer counties were overrun by the force of water from 500-year storms, while larger dams in the Denver area held, Pace said.

“There is a lesson to be learned. Do we need a large flood control structure on Fountain Creek?” Pace asked.

“In my view, that has to be driven by science and the Fountain Creek district needs to be involved in it,” said Dennis Hisey, an El Paso County commissioner. “We certainly have to plan for more than a 10-20 year event.”

The U.S. Geological Survey is completing a study for the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District that shows a large dam is equally effective as 44 small retention ponds.

The cost of building and operating either type of system remains an unknown.

“I hope our next step (for the Fountain Creek district) is to look at the cost of each of the options,” said Terry Hart, chairman of the Pueblo County commission.

“If an event (like last month’s Northern Colorado storms) hit us next season, it would be incredibly devastating to all of our jurisdictions,” Hart said.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Army Corps of Engineers is being asked to repair a project it completed just four years ago to stabilize a critical portion of bank along Fountain Creek in Pueblo. Repairs made in 2009 washed out during a Sept. 13 storm that also damaged other portions of Fountain Creek throughout the city of Pueblo. The Corps repairs would be in addition to an estimated $200,000 of work by the city in the Fountain Creek channel.

“I don’t know how long the process would be,” said Daryl Wood, Pueblo stormwater coordinator. “We’ll rely on the Corps to rebuild the embankment.”

The washout occurred on about 165 feet of a wire-wrapped levee at 13th Street. The area is critical, because the bank is just a few feet away from Union Pacific railroad tracks and a few yards from the 13th Street interchange of Interstate 25. The railroad has been notified.

While the Fountain Creek levee protects the Downtown area, washouts could affect its effectiveness at that point. Fountain Creek hits and departs the bank at a 90-degree angle under the current alignment. The Corps would have to decide if the alignment of the waterway could be changed through that section.

Prior to 1999, Fountain Creek flowed parallel to the area. Some large boulders set to protect the 13th Street area washed out in subsequent storms, and the wire-wrapped rip-rap that replaced them washed out this year.

The Eighth Street Bridge is located just downstream and several large trees were left strewn in the channel after the Sept. 13 storms, creating the potential for clogging the waterway as well.

“When the storm happened on Sept. 13, there were 2.8 inches of rain above Pueblo in a 24-hour period,” said Will Trujillo, levee safety program manager for the Corps. “In spot locations, there were 12-13 inches of rain.

When we receive that type of storm we notify any public sponsor in that section.”

The sponsor in this case is the city of Pueblo, which now has the job of detailing the damage to the project.

The Corps will schedule an inspection, determine the extent of damage and make any needed repairs, Trujillo said.

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.

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