$44M in Westside projects on $900M regional stormwater list

       Accompanied by warnings that public property and safety are increasingly at risk, a long list of needed regional stormwater projects, including 27 on the Westside, was presented to Colorado Springs City Council Feb. 11.

A flood in July 2004 at 19th Street by Uintah Gardens stranded cars for an hour or more. Up the street, just past the shopping center, is the 19th Street detention pond. That pond, as well as several aging storm sewers that are supposed to keep water off the streets, are among Westside project needs in a new report.
Westside Pioneer photo

       As it was an informal meeting, council took no action on the report by the Stormwater Task Force, but showed a clear consensus to keep gathering information on the expensive issue, to consider regional solutions and to stay in touch with citizens.
       How to pay for the needs revealed some division on council, ranging from Scott Hente defending the Stormwater Enterprise that voters eliminated in 2009 to Angela Dougan insisting that “we can't ask for a fee until we do our due diligence.”
       No one disagreed that the difference between the estimated costs and the money available is significant. According to figures provided by the task force - a mayor-appointed volunteer group supported by engineers from local governments - less than $8 million a year is available regionally for stormwater maintenance and repairs, while about $900 million is needed to fix everything. Many of the problems are in the runoff collection systems (including pipes, lined ditches, ponds, outfalls and even streets) that were built years ago - often by developers without follow-up maintenance plans - and are now showing their age. There are also issues of erosion in creeks with natural channels and places where runoff controls were never built at all.
       The 27 Westside projects, all inside Colorado Springs city limits, have a total price tag of just under $44.6 million.
       The Stormwater Task Force has not yet ranked the projects in terms of need. However, three of the Westside projects that made the “critical” list in the Stormwater Enterprise era (2007-2009) are back. Most expensive of these (as it was then) is an upgrade to the Camp Creek drainage ditch between the two lanes of 31st Street through Pleasant Valley. Planned in two phases, the work would cost just under $15 million in all.
       When the Stormwater Enterprise was in effect, funded by a monthly fee on property owners based on individual runoff estimates, Camp Creek had been scheduled for completion by 2010, with an estimated cost at that time of $10.7 million.
       In 2005, a report to the city described that ditch as “an undersized facility that has deteriorated such that major repair and reconstruction is necessary... Severe damage [could be caused to a] school (Howbert Elementary), several businesses and more than 300 homes in a large storm event.”
       Hente, who represents District 1 (including Pleasant Valley), had made the 31st Street drainage the top political issue in his 2005 election campaign for council. He will be leaving the body after the April 2 election because of term limits.
       A current major drainage problem area singled out by Public Works Director Helen Migchelbrink was a portion of South Douglas Creek that has a concrete-lined channel between Garden of the Gods Road and Centennial Boulevard. Close to half a million dollars was spent fixing three particularly bad segments under the Stormwater Enterprise, but $3,480,000 worth of repairs remain, according to the task force list. With some of that section over 50 years old, “It's a recipe for disaster,” said Migchelbrink, who chairs the task force at the request of the mayor.
       Other Westside projects on the Stormwater Task Force list that were deemed critical under the Stormwater Enterprise are the King Street detention pond (priced at $327,000 then, $431,000 now) and a new outfall for the 19th Street detention pond at 19th and Dale streets ($245,000 then, $615,000 now).
       One addition is a project to address the drainage to Fountain Creek from the 19th Street pond. “The Westside area is deficient of adequate storm sewers,” states the write-up for that project. “Erosion, flooding and property damage result from the lack of controlled stormwater conveyance.”
       The task force also included two volunteer-group presentations, one representing the interests of businesses and the other of citizens. Robin Roberts, spoke on the former, noting concerns about fire-related drainage, potential loss of life and property, potential fines and lawsuits, a steadily worsening problem, “ugly and unwelcoming waterways” and “loss of economic vitality.”
       She expressed optimism that the problem could be turned around. “If Denver can do it, we certainly can,” she said.
       Jan Doran, joined by Diann Butlak in representing the task force's citizen position, presented similar concerns, along with these: reduced property values, higher insurance rates, cost of homeowner repairs and higher utility rates.
       Doran and Butlak also presented a graph showing that Colorado Springs spends less money per person ($4.63) on stormwater maintenance than the other 10 most populated cities in the state (average of $57.38). And El Paso County, not counting Colorado Springs, spends $3.62 per person.
       Doran said the probable need for a tax for the stormwater work needs to be discussed. Dougan responded that at least in the northeastern area she currently represents, people have more taxes (in part because of special districts) than people elsewhere in the city. She also said that in any case her constituents believe that the fee for the Stormwater Enter-prise, which was approved by council after public hearings (but not by a popular vote), was “an illegal tax.”
       An interactive map of the projects can be found at pikespeakstormwater.org/projects. Prioritization of the projects is anticipated as part of a study by an engineering consultant that is to be completed this summer.
       Here is the full Westside list of projects (printed as provided by the task force except for minor clarity edits):
       Alley between Cooper Ave. and N. Chestnut St., flooding that leaves soil and debris on two private properties off Cooper, $70,000.
       19th St Detention Pond. Construct new outlet structure and improve maintenance, $615,000.
       31st Street Drainage Way, Phase 1. Replace existing undersized concrete channel with greenway, Fountain Creek to Fontanero, $8,910,000.
       31st Street Drainage Way, Phase 2. Replace existing undersized concrete channel with greenway, Fontanero to Garden of the Gods, $5,530,000.
       King Street Detention Pond. Construct new outlet structure and improve maintenance access, $431,000.
       South Douglas Creek Restoration. Repair or replace existing concrete channel, $3,480,000.
       Westside area/1513 Manitou Blvd - street drainage improvement. Inadequate storm sewer and drainage improvements cause significant street flooding and localized property damage/erosion, $260,000.
       Colorado Avenue - Midland RR branch area/Chestnut Street storm drain outfall. Design and construct upgrade storm sewer system in Chestnut St. from Pikes Peak Ave. to south of Colorado Ave. and outfalling to Monument Creek or Fountain Creek, $963,000.
       Columbia Road Drainage. Design and construct upgraded and new storm sewer facilities in Columbia Rd. and upgraded channel improvements west of Columbia Rd. from approximately Arnold Dr. to Fountain Creek, $2,037,000.
       805 S. 8th Street at NW corner of 8th and Bear Creek. Design and construct additional storm sewer and inlets from Motor City Dr. to Bear Creek on 8th St., $250,000.
       Westside drainage from detention pond at 19th and Dale streets to Fountain Creek. Erosion, flooding, and property damage result from the lack of controlled stormwater conveyance. Includes the area downstream of the pond at 19th St. and Dale St. and along Manitou Blvd, $2,903,000.
       Mecca Motel - Phase III - 3518 W. Colorado Ave. Parking lot flooded. Storm drain design required, $410,000.
       Gold Camp Rd., Storm Sewer, Reach 13. 1580 linear feet (LF), 30” to 48” reinforced concrete pipe (RCP) w/ inlets & 4x7 concrete box culvert (CBC), $389,000.
       Rio Grande Outfall Storm Sewer. 3410 LF, 36” to 48” RCP, $615,000.
       Bear Creek, Reaches 1-5. 6650 LF, riprap channel lining, 14 drop structures, $3,249,000.
       8th St Outfall Storm Sewer. 24551f 18” to 48” RCP/inlets, $516,000.
       21st St Outfall Storm Sewer. 1630 LF, 24” to 36” RCP w/inlets, $239,000.
       33rd St Storm Sewer. Fountain Creek to Pikes Peak Ave., 490 LF, 54” RCP w/inlets, $282,000.
       28th St Storm Sewer. Fountain Creek to Uintah St & 29th St., 2500 LF, of storm drain construction, $1,658,000.
       24th St Storm Sewer. Uintah to Cache La Poudre. 1500 LF, 54” & 72” RCP w/inlets, $1,343,000.
       23rd St Storm Sewer. Fountain Creek to Uintah St. 10 inlets required, $92,000.
       21st St Storm Sewer. Fountain Creek to Uintah St. 1000If 24” & 30” RCP, $274,000.
       20th St Storm Sewer. Fountain Creek to Vermijo St. 530 LF, 42” & 84” RCP w/inlets, $208,000.
       14th, 15th, 17th, & 19th St Storm Sewer. 8520 LF, of storm drain construction, $8,265,000.
       10th & 11th St Storm Sewer - Fountain Creek to Kiowa. 22701f 24” to 48” RCP w/inlets, $766,000.
       8th St Storm Sewer - Vermijo to Colorado Ave. 500 LF, 30” RCP, $133,000.
       Chestnut St Storm Sewer - Fountain Creek to Pikes Peak Ave. 1950 LF, 30” to 48” RCP w/inlets, $709,000.

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