From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Billie Stanton Anleu):
A City Council resolution approved Tuesday lets Mayor John Suthers start funneling city money to the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District.
“It’s a big deal,” says district Executive Director Larry Small.
It’s a big deal because farmers and ranchers along Fountain Creek lose farmland with every storm. The Air Force Academy is being inundated, too.
Without stormwater mitigation upstream, a 100-year storm could overtop east Pueblo levees and flood neighborhoods there.
Downstream, the Arkansas Valley suffers when Fountain Creek flows too high, such as the 20,000 cubic feet per second it reached on June 15, and Pueblo Reservoir stops releasing water. Then Fountain Creek gushes into the Arkansas River.
Colorado Springs is the watershed’s biggest city with the most impervious area.
“So it generates a huge amount of runoff,” Small said. “Then when you have fire in Black Forest and Waldo Canyon – a two-year storm in that area is equivalent to a 100-year storm – it’s just creating huge flows in that creek.”[…]
The City of Colorado Springs will provide $150,000 toward creating a flood restoration master plan for Monument Creek, the third and last tributary in the watershed without such a plan.
Cheyenne and Upper Fountain creeks’ plans are done. But Monument Creek is the biggest part of the Fountain Creek Watershed and has the most tributaries.
Its plan, like the others, will prioritize projects, identify conceptual designs and estimate budgets.
“The next step will be finding a way to implement those projects and getting funding for those projects,” Small said.
That work is expected to restore the watershed after 2013 floods associated with the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires, as well as the May rains and high flows on June 15.
The flood district has built a coalition of El Paso and Teller counties, multiple cities, the Coalition for the Upper South Platte, Colorado Springs Utilities and the Air Force Academy, all working to obtain state grants to remedy the fire- and flood-caused damage.
In addition to the $150,000 Colorado Springs now can provide to match a $300,000 state grant, for example, the Monument Creek restoration plan will get $50,000 each from El Paso County, the Air Force Academy and Colorado Springs Utilities.
“I hope the relationships are going to get better between Pueblo and Colorado Springs with the initiatives John Suthers has proposed,” Small said.
That appears to be happening already. Pueblo threatened to sue Colorado Springs but rescinded that threat after repeated visits by the mayor and Council President Merv Bennett.
“We’re in negotiations with Pueblo County commissioners as to putting together an intergovernmental agreement that puts some teeth into this so they have confidence we’ll follow through with it,” he said.
Suthers has vowed that $19 million a year will be spent on stormwater problems: $8 million from retiring bonds in the Springs Community Improvement Program, $3 million from Colorado Springs Utilities and $8 million he says he’ll squeeze out of city coffers.
“The problem is, as you’ve seen, there’s about $500 million of need. So $20 million a year – you can do the math and see how many years it would take,” Small said.
Colorado Springs Utilities agreed in 2009 to spend $50 million on waterway improvement projects, $75 million to upgrade its own wastewater or water-reuse systems and $2 million to dredge the creek at Pueblo’s levees.
Those promises were made in conjunction with getting a 1041 permit from Pueblo County to build the Southern Delivery System to pump water from Pueblo Reservoir to residents of Colorado Springs, Fountain, Security and Pueblo West.
The $50 million comes when SDS starts operating in 2016. But $50 million “is just a drop in the bucket for taking care of the corridor from Colorado Springs to the Arkansas.”
Nonetheless, said Councilman Don Knight, “Any progress is a move in the right direction. … We’re all moving in the same direction. We don’t have a stormwater task force and mayor with different solutions. We realize we have to come together with one solution.”
More Fountain Creek coverage here.