Reworking of Fountain Creek segment continues


An in-progress view to the west shows the temporary and future creek. The latter is bounded by a new slope that angles less steeply than before up to the shoulder of Highway 24. The light brown rolls along the side are called "coir rolls" - coconut fiber that's being used in places instead of rocks at the request of the Department of Wildlife to give the creek a less structured look.
Westside Pioneer photo
An enhanced waterway is continuing to take shape along Fountain Creek east of 21st Street. Heavy equipment, most prominently a large trackhoe placing 4,500- pound boulders into the new creekbed, can be seen by people driving along Highway 24.
       Started in late June, the 3,000-foot project is about 30 percent complete, according to city stormwater engineer Lisa Ross, with a finish date seen in late November.
       The city's Stormwater Enterprise is combining on the $2.3 million project with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Gold Hill Mesa's development partners. The chief goal of the project is to provide better flood protection. To this end, Ross said the new creek channel has been designed to keep a 50-year storm within its banks and to provide the capacity for a 100-year flood (although the latter won't be possible in all parts of the segment until Highway 24 is rebuilt at an unspecified point in the future).
       To allow the work, the creek flow has been diverted to a temporary, parallel channel.
       Other aspects of the work that may be visible from the road include:
  • Layers of man-made materials that are being laid along the creek banks, then covered with soil. According to Ross, these materials are rip-rap and a turf reinforcement mat (TRM). The TRM provides “additional stability” to the slope and the future vegetation that will be planted there. It also helps prevent previous gold mill tailings “from being eroded and carried into the stream,” she said. The rip-rap helps with the stability. “This was done,” explained Ross, “because velocities are higher in the low-flow channel and require a higher level of protection. The project partners wanted to provide this level of protection for the 50-year event and for storms occurring more frequently.”

    A trackhoe used by contractor Colorado Structures works on the new creekbed.
    Westside Pioneer photo
  • Wetland areas, also called “pocket wetlands,” because they are relatively small. These are being created beside the low-flow channel “to provide habitat for aquatic life and wildlife. Microorganisms in the wetland pools also help filter pollutants out of runoff that come into the stream in different places. “They mimic what you find in nature,” Ross said.
  • Trees that are NOT being removed. The project intent is to leave as many of the current trees as possible (including a grouping at the west end of the project which, for now at least, includes a “hobo hilton” tent site).
  • In some of the open areas, cottonwoods and other plantings will go in, Ross said.

    A view looking east shows the temporary channel paralleling the new one that's being built. The black material that's visible on the new slope is the turf reinforcement mat discussed in the article on this page.
    Westside Pioneer photo
  • Extension of the project another 100 feet to the east. Funded separately through Stormwater Enterprise, this will help transition the more natural design of the current segment, with its narrower low-flow channel, into the broader-plain design that Stormwater used on the flood-control project between about 8th and 14th streets, Ross said.

    Westside Pioneer article