Feb 26, 2014 12:50 AM by Maddie Garrett
Work is being done in the Waldo Canyon burn area to prevent devastating flooding like El Paso County saw last year. Most people are aware of the culvert being installed along Highway 24 to funnel water under the highway, but there's much more going on in the area.
New structures are being built that the County didn't have last year that should help slow down flood waters and catch debris and sediment.
Those structures include new catch basins, terracing of walls in the burn scar, spillways and containment areas.
While the culvert being built along highway 24 will increase the volume of water going into Manitou Springs, the County and City said that's ok. They explained the water the city can handle, it's the debris and sediment that caused so much damage.
The County also wants to keep Ute Pass open and guide the water away from the highway not only for safety reasons but to help with business and commuters as well.
"I think it will make a major positive difference on how the water flows, but again, it's not an exact science and we're doing our best to control that flow we want to slow it down," said Jim Reid, El Paso County Director of Public Services.
The total cost of the County's projects is just over $1 million dollars. FEMA is picking up the tab for most of the cost, the local tax dollars being used is about $218,000.
Mayor Marc Snyder said he is encouraged by the work being done not only in his city, but upstream as well because at the end of the day, what happens upstream has a direct effect on Manitou.
"All the work that the Forest Service and the County has done on behalf of towns like Cascade, Chipita Park, all benefits us," said Snyder.
Manitou Springs has projects of its own to mitigate flooding. One of the main projects and most expensive, building catchment structures at the bottom of Williams Canyon. There are several phases of this construction that will take place over a long period of time and will end up costing about $4 million.
Williams Canyon is extremely challenging for the Manitou and the County, because of it's inaccessibility and steep terrain. That makes any flood mitigation there even more costly.
The city is also working on Fountain Creek, clearing out debris and sediment that has hardened and raised the flow level by an average of three feet. Crews have also started working on clearing out the creek and banks near all of the bridges along Fountain Creek.