Non-stop rains kept city from clearing out Camp Creek sediment basin; Foothills Trail suffers from high flows
The plan with the four-acre depression was to have it slow Camp Creek enough that it would settle out the dirt it was carrying.
This was in response to September 2013, when the rain-swollen creek left behind sand and gravel that covered a broad swath of the Garden, including some 200 feet of the Foothills Trail that closely parallels the creek and 30th Street.
So it was not a happy outcome for City Engineering, after the seemingly non-stop rains of late April and early May, to see the sediment basin too full to be effective and the Foothills Trail forced to close again.
City Stormwater Manager Tim Mitros said May 14 that because the
The basin scene on the 14th, about five days after the last major downpour, gave no indication of a dug-out area anymore, just an expanse of wet sediment. Cutting through it in several places, before converging into the main channel several hundred feet to the south was a full and fast-moving creek.
The basin may have been somewhat effective, however, because the most serious damage to the trail this time was not dirt but the water itself. A segment about 400 feet in length, not far below the basin, has been undercut noticeably in two places. A few large concrete slabs that make up the trail have sagged down, and other places will require reinforcement underneath
At least, on May 14, the worst of the damage appeared to have been done - unless more rains come - as the creek had clearly dropped from when it flowed over and undercut the trail.
Mitros said he believes the basin was effective in the recent rains “until it got overwhelmed.” He pointed out that crews had actually cleaned it out in late April, which was just before downpours started happening on a daily basis.
Now, “there's so much water coming in, crews can't get in there,” he noted.
In designing the basin, the city had considered the area's normal weather patterns, in which rain tends to come in short bursts followed by breaks of sunshine. Such a scenario allows time to bring in heavy equipment and dig up/haul out sediment before a new storm. But the multi-day nature of the recent rains is “unusual around here,” Mitros said.
Asked if perhaps the basin might be enlarged, Mitros said that's worth considering, then added the thought: “This [the flooding problem] will probably be never-ending for a long time here.”
The closure is in the Garden between Gateway Road and the Navigators property just north of the Garden. There is no prediction when that segment can reopen.
According to general reports from city officials, the volume of water in any rainstorms is compounded by the loss of vegetation in the hills where Camp Creek begins, as a result of the 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire.
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