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Non-stop rains kept city from clearing out Camp Creek sediment basin; Foothills Trail suffers from high flows

Slabs that were undercut when Camp Creek was running high recently sag down from the Foothills Trail a few hundred feet south of the city's sediment basin.
Westside Pioneer photo
       Over a year ago, City Engineering spent $200,000 to dig a sediment basin at the north end of the Garden of the Gods.
       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
Water runs in various channels through the city sediment basin at the north end of the Garden of the Gods May 14. The steady rain, combined with a fast-running Camp Creek has prevented crews from cleaning out the basin so it can resume its design function of slowing the flow to let the sediment settle.
Westside Pioneer photo
basin was no longer able to hold back water for settling purposes, dirt and rocks have been reported in the creek as far downstream as Echo Lane in lower Pleasant Valley.
       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
This is the second section of the Foothills Trail beside Camp Creek and below the sediment basin that was severely undercut during the recent rains.
Westside Pioneer photo
and along their sides near the creek.
       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.
A sign about flood safety is flooded itself at the lower end of the city's four-acre sediment basin.
Westside Pioneer photo
“We just kept getting more sediment and more sediment,”
       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.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 5/14/15, updated 5/17/15; Outdoors Garden of the Gods)

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