#Colorado Springs turns dirt on first project under Ballot Issue 2

Colorado Springs with the Front Range in background. Photo credit Wikipedia.

From KRDO.com (Mekialaya White):

City crews are officially starting work to repair stormwater drainage after Colorado Springs voters passed Ballot Issue 2 back in April.

It comes with a price tag of $12 million dollars in excess revenue.

“This multi phase project will address flooding in the hardest hit area in the Little Shooks Run neighborhood by making several improvements to the drainage system through the end of 2017,” Mayor John Suthers, with the city of Colorado Springs explained.

The project will use $6 million this year and another $6 next year.

“It’s just an example of how we can take needed dollars and fix issues that have been around for a long time.” said Water Resources Engineering Division Manager Rich Mulledy.

The projects directly impact other parts of Southern Colorado. Pueblo county and city leaders have dealt with their share of storm water issues also, stemming from Fountain Creek.

“A lot of erosion and occasionally a sewer spill,” said Steve Nawrocki, Pueblo City Council President has said.

Fountain Creek district update: RFP on the way for first project

Fountain Creek erosion via The Pueblo Chieftain

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tommy Purfield):

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.

#Colorado Springs: Flood mitigation and restoration on Camp Creek

Camp Creek channel via City of Colorado Springs

From KOAA.com (Zach Thaxton):

A group of around a half dozen southeastern Colorado water and wildlife leaders toured Phase One of a three-phase improvement project on flood-damaged Camp Creek in Garden of the Gods Wednesday. The tour was part of the two-day Arkansas Valley River Basin Water Forum, happening in Colorado Springs. The group observed part of the Camp Creek Stream Stabilization Project, which was completed last fall as Phase one of the Camp Creek Drainage Improvement Project.

“They’re protecting the channel and providing storage for stormwater, so that will benefit the community down below,” said Gary Bostrom with the Southeast Colorado Water Conservancy District. The $1 million project is designed to channel floodwater coming out of Queens Canyon, ravaged during 2012’s Waldo Canyon Fire, through Garden of the Gods and into the Camp Creek channel along 31st Street in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood. Flooding in 2015 spread coarse sediment through the northern section of the park, destroying trails.

Phase Two of the project is construction of an $8.5 million detention basin below The Navigators. “The detention facility is a huge part of holding back flows and making the lower reach much more safe,” said Richard Mulledy, Water Resources Engineering Division manager for the City of Colorado Springs. Construction on the basin is set to begin in late 2017 following the conclusion of monsoon season.

Phase Three includes rebuilding of the 31st Street channel and making landscaping improvements and adding sidewalks and bicycle paths. View details of the entire project HERE.

Pueblo County Commissioners urge EPA to continue Fountain Creek lawsuit

Fountain Creek erosion via The Pueblo Chieftain

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Anthony A. Mestas):

In response to a call from Sen. Doug Lamborn for the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw its federal lawsuit against the city of Colorado Springs, the Pueblo County commissioners have drafted a letter to lawmakers against that action.

On Wednesday, the commissioners agreed to send the letter to members of their federal congressional delegation.

“We felt that it was imperative that we draft this letter to both the House and the Senate to reiterate just how important this lawsuit is to Pueblo County in protecting our interests pertaining to water quality,” Commissioner Garrison Ortiz said.

Commissioner Sal Pace said lobbyists already are asking new EPA leadership to pull back on Fountain Creek and to not push forward with the federal lawsuit.

“There’s been some evidence that the EPA is going to heed the call of some of these political forces in El Paso County and Colorado Springs,” Pace said.

“We think it’s critically important to the county that the EPA stays strong in this matter and stands alongside the state health department, Pueblo County and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.”

[…]

Ortiz said budget cuts to the EPA by President Donald Trump may affect the current lawsuit.

“That certainly played into the decision-making process whether to join in the litigation in the first place or not,” Ortiz said.

The proposed cuts especially to the EPA and some other agencies are certainly concerning . . . All that we are continuing to ask for is a seat at the table ensuring that our interests are continuing to be protected.”

#Colorado Springs voters approve stormwater funding by a wide margin

Colorado Springs with the Front Range in background. Photo credit Wikipedia.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jakob Rodgers):

Colorado Springs voters’ reticence to fund stormwater projects ended Tuesday evening as all three ballot measures cruised to passage.

Ballot Issue 2, which asked voters to set aside $12 million in excess revenue for stormwater projects, jumped to an early lead with 66 in preliminary unofficial results.

Sixty-six percent of voters – 50,612 as of 9:05 p.m. – voted in favor of the measure, according to unofficial results.

The move came as a relief to Travis Easton, the city’s public works director.

“I’m pleased with that and we got more work to do now,” Easton said. “We’re ready to start those projects and anxious to get everything done.”

Specifically, the measure sets aside $6 million this year and another $6 million next year to complete 26 projects, rather than rebate the money back to taxpayers.

The vote marked another chapter in a years-long saga over funding flood control projects across the city…

In April 2016, the city entered into a 20-year intergovernmental agreement that city leaders signed with Pueblo County in April 2016. The agreement called on Colorado Springs to spend $460 million in that time on stormwater projects – lest Pueblo County leaders put a halt to the city’s prized Southern Delivery Project…

Mayor John Suthers…campaigned hard for the measure – stressing that using the extra money now would help the city meet funding requirements in the Pueblo deal during lean years.

The city must spend roughly $17 million a year on stormwater to meet its agreement.

Easton said Tuesday’s results showed that voters are more aware of stormwater issues facing the city, and they’re more trusting of city officials to deliver.

#Colorado Springs: Mayor Suthers’ report card 2 years in

Colorado Springs with the Front Range in background. Photo credit Wikipedia.
Colorado Springs with the Front Range in background. Photo credit Wikipedia.

From The Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

Usually curt and to the point, Suthers on this day stretches what was scheduled as a 30-minute interview into a full hour. Perhaps he wants to bask in his achievements — persuading voters to approve a $250-million, five-year sales tax increase for roads; creating a $460-million, 20-year agreement with Pueblo County to fund the city’s drainage needs, and subduing a once-rocky relationship between Council and the mayor’s office.

But Suthers is too pragmatic to rest on his laurels for long. While he talks in endearing terms about his hometown of Colorado Springs…

What is your long game on flood control, and what role will City Council play?

First of all, it’s more than flood control. Stormwater is both flood mitigation and water quality. The federal part of this case is all about water quality. The end game is to get a stormwater program that does right by the citizens of Colorado Springs and also meets all legal muster. And right now, the outstanding legal issue is with the federal and state government — the Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

My goal is to hopefully reach a resolution with them and then assess whether there’s any more money involved than the intergovernmental agreement calls for. And then at some point, with the cooperation of Council, go to voters with a long-term solution to stormwater. Absent a dedicated revenue stream, that [$460 million for the agreement with Pueblo] is going to come from the general fund. That will put a lot of pressure on the general fund.

So the long-term goal, hopefully with the assistance of Council, and I don’t know how we would pull it off without Council, is to go to the voters. That would provide a funding stream for stormwater and allow us to free up some general fund money for some other obligations I see coming down the pike.

Notably, we, I think in the next five to 10 years, have to significantly increase the size of the police department, put more officers on the street…

With Donald Trump in the White House, any chance there might be a settlement or dismissal of the [EPA and CDPHE lawsuit]?

Haven’t heard that at all. We had the first court hearing last week. We recommended going to a third-party mediator, which we think that’s in our interest, and the federal government rejected that. We think we have a great case to show for all the alleged sins of the past. We’re moving forward, and I’ll stack our stormwater program and commitments up to any city in Colorado, but [the lawsuit] is going forward.

#Colorado Springs councillors OK @CSUtilities water sales to Security

Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.
Widefield aquifer via the Colorado Water Institute.

From KKTV.com:

On Tuesday afternoon, Colorado Springs City Council voted to help their neighbors deal with [pollution of the Widefield Aquifer]. They voted unanimously on the agenda item that will allow Colorado Springs Utilities to sell their water to Security Water District. The resolution goes into effect immediately.

It’s a short term deal – just up to three years as of now, but Springs Utilities says the have more than enough resources to help.