City official: Westside storm drains too old, too small
Comments follow 19th Street flood incident July 23
The flooding that briefly stranded two cars on 19th Street July 23 is a sign of the Westside's worsening storm-control
shortcomings, according to Randy Zettlemoyer, street operations manager for the City of Colo-rado Springs.
“There's going to have to be some serious money allocated to the Westside for drainage improvements in the next 10 years,” he told the Westside Pioneer. He had no cost estimate, but speculated that after factoring in labor, materials and tearing up streets, the expense would be “millions and millions of dollars.”
However, for the time being, he said the current drains are not leaking and should be adequate for storms of less intensity than the gully-washer in the late afternoon of July 23. At the height of that storm, between about 5 and 6 p.m., the backed-up water rose to at least two feet on 19th Street between Uintah and Glenn streets beside the Uintah Gardens shopping center.
The drainage problems relate to both the age and size of the systems in an area roughly between 8th and 30th streets and Cimarron and Fillmore, Zettlemoyer said. Most of the storm drains in that area were installed with developments that were built 50 to 80 years ago, he explained.
Regarding size, the underground drains in that area are 24 inches in diameter - capable of handling what's known as a “10-year” storm - while pipes in new developments are typically 36 inches, capable of handling a “25-year” storm, he said. The July 23 downpour was considered a 25-year. But even that flood cleared out within a relatively short time, he noted.
Another factor contributing to drainage issues at 19th and Uintah - as well as the Westside in general - is the infill development that has occurred in recent years. By paving over areas that used to be natural terrain, “there's just no place for the water to percolate in,” Zettlemoyer said. “It's all on the surface now, and it's going to get to Fountain Creek as fast as it can.”
Westside Pioneer Article