Burn-area rains raise creek levels, concerns


After the July 1 rainstorm... Standing on a Rock Ledge bridge, just north of Pleasant Valley, people watch a black and unusually high Camp Creek flow past them.
Travers Jordan photos - special to Westside Pioneer
Two Fountain Creek flooding incidents in the past two weeks have ruined houses and cars in the Manitou area and forced temporary closures of Highway 24 up Ute Pass, but at least through July 10 Colorado Springs and the Westside had been spared serious impacts.
       Spurred by a short but hard downpour over Waldo Canyon Fire burn areas, the July 1 incident briefly raised the levels of Camp Creek and Fountain Creek (downstream from Manitou) to nearly the tops of their banks. Neither overflowed, however, and no damage occurred within city limits, according to Tim Mitros, the city's stormwater engineering manager.
       Coincidentally, the city and county were already planning a “public awareness” meeting for Fountain Creek. The date will be Wednesday, July 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Colorado Springs Shrine Hall, 6 S. 33rd St.
       “This meeting will address potential impacts on Fountain Creek identified in the Preliminary Flash Flood Risk Analysis for the Waldo Canyon Burn Scar,” a press release states. “Online maps to determine flood risk are available at springsgov.com/ floodinfo.”

After the July 1 rainstorm... Fountain Creek near Vermijo Park, its waters also black (as a result of rain on burn areas), also flows high along its banks.
Travers Jordan photos – special to Westside Pioneer

       Several local stormwater and/or emergency specialists will speak at the meeting, but questions will also be taken, and one-on-one exchanges with officials can occur informally afterward, according to Kim Melchor of City Communications.
       She added that the county and city planned the get-together as part of a continuing series of informational sessions for people who live along waterways downstream from burn areas. A Camp Creek meeting had occurred in April. “We feel this is really important after the flash flood last week. We know people's attention is focused,” Melchor said.
       This is clearly the case on Camp Creek, where numerous Pleasant Valley residents came out to watch the creek rise quickly July 1.
       Some debris washed down Camp Creek during the flash flood, and the City Street Department went in to clean it up a few days afterward. Mitros also noted that a debris rack/fence, installed upstream last winter above the Glen Eyrie property, “collected about 10 feet of debris that otherwise would have washed down.”
       The dark, muddy color of the July 1 water was the result of rain having fallen over the burn area and carrying down “burn residue,” Mitros said. He said that type of phenomenon will continue until all the residue washes away.
       Because the 2012 fire denuded the vegetation in the upper reaches of Camp and Fountain creeks, stormwater specialists have predicted higher chances of flooding this summer, even from what used to be minimal rainfalls.

About 10 feet of debris in Camp Creek was held back by this new metal containment net (also called a rack, fence or barrier) secured across Queens Canyon above Glen Eyrie after the July 1 rainfall.
Photo by Amaro Montemayor; courtesy of City Stormwater

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