Flood study will assess Fountain, Cheyenne creeks

By Matt Steiner Published: December 9, 2013 | 5:45 pm 0

As the Colorado Department of Transportation continues flood mitigation efforts along U.S. highway 24 west of Colorado Springs, a new flood damage assessment project is about to start along the Fountain Creek and Cheyenne Creek corridors.

Larry Small of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District announced plans Monday to sponsor a study to identify potential projects stemming from storms and floods that hit the Pikes Peak region in July, August and September. Much of the damage along Fountain Creek came during flash floods in early July and Aug. 9, while that near Cheyenne Creek happened during torrential rains that occurred in El Paso County north to the Wyoming border.

El Paso County's John Chavez called the assessment a "fill in the gaps project" that will further point out post-Waldo Canyon fire weaknesses in the watersheds. The project is expected to run through the end of 2014, Small said at Monday's monthly Waldo Canyon Fire Regional Recovery Group meeting. The fire ravaged the mountains west of Colorado Springs in June 2012, killing two people, burning more than 18,000 acres and destroying 347 homes.

The Upper Fountain Creek and Cheyenne Creek Flood Restoration Master Plan comes more than six months after two studies in the Waldo Canyon burn scar and area watersheds were completed.

Small said his organization was approved Friday for a $175,000 grant from Colorado Water Conservation Board. The entire assessment will cost $437,500, with the remainder of the money coming from the City of Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Colorado Springs Utilities and other area municipalities and organizations.

Officials with CDOT, who also were at Monday's meeting, highlighted two more projects along Highway 24 that they hope will keep debris flow off the roadway and alert responders before large floods strand motorists.

CDOT plans video cameras, flow gauges, online monitoring and road closure gates.

One set of monitoring equipment was installed the week of Nov. 12 about 1.5 miles up Waldo Canyon. That project cost $100,000, and CDOT said Monday that it has $200,000 more to spend on two more sites. Dave Watt of CDOT said they are looking at Williams Canyon and areas above Cascade as potential candidates. The United States Geologic Survey is working with CDOT on the project.

The public can monitor current conditions on the Waldo Canyon equipment on the Internet at co.water.usgs.gov/webcams/waldo.

Traffic control gates also eventually will be a part of the early warning system. Installations near Cave of the Winds and Cascade could cost $5 million. CDOT officials said they are looking into funding sources and potential federal reimbursement for that money.

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