As part of the 1041 permit for SDS, Colorado Springs is obligated to pay the Fountain Creek district $10 million per year through 2020, for a total of $50 million, which would pay for flood or erosion control measures along the creek that benefit Pueblo County. The district already has received $20 million for 2016 and 2017.
“This is the first of what we hope are many projects utilizing the money from the land-use permit for SDS for the betterment of Fountain Creek,” said Pueblo County Commissioner Terry Hart, who represents the county on the Fountain Creek district. “The purpose is to do everything we can to limit the amount of flood waters, the amount of sedimentation and the amount of damage that flows south on Fountain Creek into Pueblo County.
“The Masciantonio project is the first one where we’re literally taking knowledge that we’ve gained from past experiences and applying it. If it works successfully the way the engineers think it will, it could be a model that is used all along the creek and protect lands for generations to come. We’re very excited to get the first one going.”
The district has a budget of $3 million for the project on the Masciantonio property to encompass all costs through completion.
“The district’s goal is to stop the erosion, stop the loss of farmland, reduce downstream sedimentation and improve water quality,” said Larry Small, executive director of the Fountain Creek district.
The project on the Masciantonio property includes constructing seven bendway weirs — or rock diversionary structures — along the west bank of the creek just downstream from the mouth of Young Hollow Tributary. The weirs are intended to redirect the flow of water as it comes into the bend, slow its velocity and help redeposit sediment behind the weirs.
“As water flows over the weirs, water slows down and sediment drops out,” Small said. “It helps the creek bank build back up, weir-to-weir.”
A “bench” will be constructed at the base and abutted against the bank to anchor the weirs, which will be 7-8 feet wide at the base and run 8 feet deep into the creek bed. The length of each weir varies, to maintain a fixed radius from the center of creek flows.
“It’s a pretty prominent, stable structure,” Small said, “almost a pyramid structure.”
Although Young Hollow is dry most of the year, strong storms can cause it to run as high as 6,000 cubic feet per second, which rushes into Fountain Creek with strong force just upstream from the location of the project. Small said the placement of the first two weirs in the series of seven are important to redirecting water as it comes out of Young Hollow.
As the land above the creek slopes from west to east, a berm also will be constructed above the structure to prevent erosion from the back side of the bank.
“Rains get pretty heavy down there and it doesn’t take a whole lot to start the damage again,” Small said.
Small hopes to complete the competitive bid process and have a contract in place by June. Work could start in July, with the weir structures, and their required large rocks, accounting for the bulk of construction. Flow conditions on Fountain Creek will factor heavily into when work can be conducted and how long the project may take to complete.
The last stage of the project will include revegetation along the bank with the planting of cottonwood and willow along and above the “bench,” which likely will take place next March. The roots will help anchor soils and rocks, providing another layer of protection against erosion.