Mayor eyes S. Douglas, Camp creeks for upgrades

       Mayor Steve Bach hopes to use $8.8 million in city reserve funds to mitigate flooding that could occur in Camp and South Douglas creeks on the Westside, as well as in North Douglas Creek through northern Colorado Springs.

City Stormwater Engineering Manager Tim Mitros (far right) explains to a full house in the Great Hall at Glen Eyrie April 11 about the potential flooding issues facing the Pleasant Valley neighborhood this year.
Westside Pioneer photo

       His proposal for a supplemental appropriation is part of a request for $10 million in flood-safety improvements that will go before City Council at its April 22 meeting. Bach and his chief of staff, Laura Neumann, spoke at a media briefing April 17.
       The urgency stems from last summer's Waldo Canyon Fire, whose burn areas have wiped out much of the vegetation that would normally reduce storm flows in the upstream areas of those drainages. Just half an inch of rain in an hour could result in flooding, officials are predicting.
       Regarding Camp Creek, Public Works Director Helen Migchelbrink elaborated at the briefing that even with council approval, a “robust public process” will occur, meaning that any improvements will not likely be implemented there until after this summer.
       However, she said that some relief will result from other “remedial steps” that have occurred over the past several months, including debris racks (built by the Navigators organization on the Glen Eyrie property) and clearing work in and near the creek channel (by city contractors) between Glen Eyrie and Pleasant Valley.
       For South Douglas Creek, Migchelbrink said the focus will be on repairing deteriorated concrete in the lined channel east of 30th Street and south of Garden of the Gods Road. As a continuation of past repair work, this project could get under way in time to allow the city to “secure the area for the summer,” she said at the briefing.
       The tentative plan for Camp Creek is to build a “detention basin” north of Gateway Road in the Garden of the Gods. This could take the shape of a berm that would be built across the channel, letting normal flows through but holding back water if it “got up to a 50-year storm,” explained City Stormwater Engineering Manager Tim Mitros in a separate interview.

Capt. Carl Miller of the city's Office of Emergency Management (left) answers a question after a meeting addressing flood concerns that drew close to 200 people to the Great Hall at Glen Eyrie April 11.
Westside Pioneer photo

       At a meeting on flood concerns to which Pleasant Valley residents were invited April 11, Mitros also mentioned the detention basin possibility. In an interview this week, he said another alternative that could come up in the public process is widening the concrete channel itself, although such work would likely eliminate on-street parking for the houses along 31st Street. Even if there were a plan that everyone supported, accurate engineering would be impaired because the most recent study of water flows in Pleasant Valley dates back to about 1964. “I want to update this,” Mitros said.
       As for the coming summer's rainy season, he said people in Pleasant Valley will simply need to be prepared for a greater chance of flooding. The channel itself, built about 50 years ago, was only designed for a 50-year flood, while the culverts at its street crossings are typically at a 25-year rating, which could very well plug up in a big storm, he said.
       A breakdown of how the $8.8 million would be divvied out among the three drainages was not provided at the briefing.
       The rest of the $10 million in the proposal would be used for a “comprehensive review” of the Waldo Canyon & High Park fires ($100,000), “emergency preparedness” ($100,000) and “forest management/ fuels reduction” ($1 million), according to documents provided by the mayor's office. (High Park was a major fire in Larimer County last summer, and that county and El Paso County partnered in requests for federal aid.)
       Bach also clarified that the $10 million is over and beyond the $28 million for stormwater projects that his office has already proposed for the year.
       Overall, Bach is asking council for $11.875 million as a supplemental appropriation from reserves. The other items on the list involve vehicle replacement, employee compensation and a better computerized system for council work.
       Anticipating concerns about dipping into city reserves, Neumann pointed out for the record that under Mayor Bach the city's reserves have risen to the highest they've ever been, and the balance after the $11.875 million will still be $34.3 million.

Westside Pioneer article