Fountain Creek restoration projects update

From Colorado Public Radio (Dan Boyce):

In cities like Denver and Pueblo, urban waterways have become recreation resources. But in the Springs, Fountain Creek is still struggling to shake its reputation as a contaminated dumping ground…

The city is mired in a years-long ongoing lawsuit concerning pollution and creek sediment brought by a group of plaintiffs that includes the EPA and multiple downstream counties…

The trash-strewn banks of today don’t help the image either; nor does the looming silhouette of the Martin Drake power plant near at hand. But in spite of all that, [Richard] Mulledy said Fountain Creek is turning a corner in the public’s mind…

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on addressing water quality concerns and miles of creekside trails have been constructed in recent years. These are just the latest indications that the state’s second largest city is serious about catching up to the amenity-focused approach other Colorado cities have taken to their once-industrial waterways.

And surprising glimmers of hope are already swimming in the creek itself: normal, non-radioactive, two-eyed trout — and hefty ones at that.

“I’ve caught rainbow trout up to 18 inches down by Walmart and brown trout bigger than that,” said local fly fisherman Alan Peak…

On the city’s south side, Dorchester Park provides one of the more secluded camping options for those experiencing homelessness. It also holds some of Fountain Creek’s best trout habitat. Alan Peak stops by every so often to tidy up the area, filling up large black garbage bags with trash.

He said he would never eat the fish he catches from Fountain Creek; he releases them all. Outside of that, he’s not really worried about water pollution. He just washes up after his visits…

Certain stretches of the creek do still test above the state’s minimum standard for e-coli contamination at times — an unhappy distinction it shares with about 100 other Colorado waterways. But the city argues that, broadly speaking, the stream is now safe.

The Fountain Creek Watershed is located along the central front range of Colorado. It is a 927-square mile watershed that drains south into the Arkansas River at Pueblo. The watershed is bordered by the Palmer Divide to the north, Pikes Peak to the west, and a minor divide 20 miles east of Colorado Springs. Map via the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District.

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