Aug 12, 2011 6:23 PM by David Ortiviz
As the population grows in Colorado Springs, we use more water and that's had a major impact on Fountain Creek. Over the years, wastewater runoff has pushed a lot of sediment downstream and it's built up in Pueblo raising concerns of flooding.
"The banks are eroding along the creek," said Larry Small, Executive Director of the Fountain Creek Watershed. Small says so much rock and sand has filled the river bottom, the water level is raising higher and so are fears of flooding.
"We don't have a normal creek bed anymore, it's filled itself with the sediment. So we don't have the capacity to handle flood waters," said Small.
They could remove the sediment with backhoes, but that's a temporary solution. "The issue with that is, after you dredge it, the water brings more sediment and just re-establishes it," said Small.
The Fountain Creek Watershed has an alternative plan. They're testing an automatic sediment collector system. It's located on the lower east side near where Fountain Creek empties into the Arkansas River.
The system works like a vacuum. Water and sand is collected from the creek and it's eventually separated by a machine. The water goes back into the river.
Smalls says they estimate it can remove more than a million pounds of sediment a day, with no bad side effects. "We don't expect any impact to the aquatic life in the creek from using these systems," said Small.
Small says they're hoping to lower a stretch of creek bed by about 6-feet within a year. If it works, they may add other machines farther north. "We're seriously doing something to fix the flooding issues here in Pueblo," said Small.
It costs about $800,000 to run the system for a year. The project was funded by state grants and both the City of Pueblo and Pueblo County.