Fountain Creek: “…we can’t do anything in the creek under it’s under control” — Larry Atencio

Fountain Creek erosion via The Pueblo Chieftain
Fountain Creek erosion via The Pueblo Chieftain

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

After a decade, the vision for Fountain Creek is beginning to come into focus.

It will require multiple projects up and down a waterway that can quickly turn from a placid, meandering stream to a raging muddy river in one cloudburst.

They’ll need to be coordinated.

They’ll need to be maintained.

And in the most extreme of storms, there will have to be something to hold back the water before it hits Pueblo.

The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District Friday tackled a few of those challenges and Pueblo’s representatives on the board were vocal about the next phases for flood control projects.

“Show me the detention ponds that will stop a flood,” said Pueblo City Councilman Larry Atencio. “It’s no secret that I advocate a dam. With economic and commercial development, we can’t do anything in the creek under it’s under control.”

Dennis Maroney, Pueblo’s former stormwater chief, recently surveyed Fountain Creek from the confluence with the Arkansas River to the northern city limits, and said it has radically changed over the last 10 years.

A demonstration flood control pond near the Northside Walmart will probably wash out before it can be repaired and the creek itself looks like a bomb hit it, he said.

“Fountain Creek has changed a lot,” said Maroney, who chairs the technical advisory committee and is a member of another committee looking at prioritizing projects. “If we do a project on Fountain Creek, we have to maintain it.”

“It will continue to get worse as long as we get more water,” said Jane Rhodes, who represents Fountain Creek property owners on the board. “And just wait until SDS (Southern Delivery System) if you don’t think it will change.”

The district will work with Colorado Springs and Pueblo County in coordinating stormwater projects within Colorado Springs that could impact Pueblo downstream. Right now, as part of 1041 permit negotiations, about 73 projects beneficial to both Colorado Springs and Pueblo County have been identified.

The district needs to determine how those efforts would impact its own work between Colorado Springs and Pueblo, as well as projects within Pueblo such as the detention pond that is washing out. Projects within Colorado Springs could reduce flows into Fountain Creek, but also might have the potential to move more water into the creek.

The Fountain Creek district includes a technical advisory committee with members from El Paso and Pueblo counties, cities within those counties and conservancy districts. It also is receiving input from a citizens advisory committee and a monetary mitigation committee that will prioritize projects to be funded with Colorado Springs’ $50 million payment over five years under the 1041 permit.

Pueblo County Commissioner Terry Hart could not say when the $50 million will begin arriving.

“We’re really at an impasse until we have an idea when the first $10 million will be made available to the district,” Hart said.