Home Page

A late-February view north in Red Rock Canyon Open Space shows the lower pond in the foreground. In the background, behind the dam, is the upper pond. A spillway in the dam allows overflow water from the upper pond to flow into the lower pond. A year ago, the lower pond was dry and the upper pond level was about 15 below its spillway.
Travers Jordan photo -- special to the Westside Pioneer

City Parks: Planned outlet pipe from Red Rock lower's pond (now on hold) wouldn't have worsened city flooding last summer

       With the two main ponds at Red Rock Canyon Open Space full to overflowing since the August-September rains, would Fountain Creek flooding have been worse if City Parks had been able to go ahead with plans to install a new pipe designed to keep the lower pond from retaining water?
       The Westside Pioneer recently asked that question of Chris Lieber, development manager for Colorado Springs Parks.
       He replied in an e-mail that the “pipe would have resulted in a net increase in water within Fountain Creek during the storm event, but it would not have contributed significantly to the flood event [because its designed size] would restrict the amount of water released at any given time.”
       This would also mean, Lieber elaborated, "if we had an epic storm event, in addition to the water being released through the pipe, excess water would begin spilling over the emergency spillway once the pond exceeded the capacity of the dam."
       The city had announced last June that it was going to seek contractor bids on the project, which would have involved construction of a nearly 500-foot-long underground outlet pipe connecting the lower of the two ponds near the pavilion off Red Rock Canyon Trail with an existing drainage system into Fountain Creek. The project would have made the pond legitimate in the eyes of the state by no longer retaining water that actually belongs to downstream users. (The ponds had been created by the Bock family, who owned Red Rock Canyon for about 80 years before the city bought the 790-acre parcel in 2003.)
       However, when pipe-installation bids came in much higher than the estimated $45,000 to $50,000, the city decided last summer to postpone the work indefinitely. That continues to be the case, Lieber said. “We also needed to focus our staff time on all the flood damage from the September storm,” he added. “We'll need to talk internally about the next steps for this project.”
       Currently, the only way water flows out of the lower pond is through a spillway at its top.
       Both ponds appear to be about 20 feet deep, with the upper pond covering close to three-fourths of an acre and the lower pond noticeably broader than that.
       The city is under no immediate state pressure to install the planned pipe.
       The project was to be the first phase of City Parks upgrades related to the ponds. An ensuing phase was to install another pipe, this one to carry water that would be pumped to the upper pond from a city line along Highway 24. The purpose was to make sure the upper pond did not go dry, for aesthetic and wildlife-thirst reasons. Its level had been steadily dropping as a result of several drought years (the lower pond was dry). In response, the Friends of Red Rock Canyon had started a $100,000 fundraising campaign for the pumping project in 2012. However, the group put the effort on hold after last summer's rains filled both ponds.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 4/1/14; Outdoors: Red Rock Canyon)

Would you like to respond to this article? The Westside Pioneer welcomes letters at editor@westsidepioneer.com. (Click here for letter-writing criteria.)