Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Believe it or not, flood mitigation is working

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Carol Ekarius addresses the Commissioners.
  • Carol Ekarius addresses the Commissioners.
Carol Ekarius, executive director of the Coalition for the Upper South Platte, told El Paso County Commissioners today that flood mitigation is working.

While the destruction in Manitou Springs would suggest otherwise, Ekarius says thousands of volunteers have been hard at work mitigating flooding off the Waldo Canyon burn scar and they have made a lot of progress. CUSP is coordinating those efforts.

"[The structures] are working," she told the commissioners. "They simply can't handle a flood like last weekend's flood, it's simply way too much water. But a very quick analysis suggests that at least 12,000 tons of sediment and debris were kept off of Highway 24 out of the Waldo Canyon." 

Ekarius also notes that crews removed a house in from Waldo Canyon in July that would have ended up in U.S. Highway 24 on August 9, "no question in my mind." 

Additionally, mitigation on North Douglas Creek protected homes in an earlier destructive storm. "In the July 1 storm, the estimate is that these [basins] kept 11,700 tons up in the drainage that did not come down," she says. 

Ekarius also expressed her support to the county's "regional approach" to stormwater needs — which are in apparent conflict with Mayor Steve Bach's desire to deal with city stormwater needs separately.

"I come at life from a watershed perspective," she said. "And that's it, the watershed doesn't recognize the arbitrary boundaries of human beings. Water goes where the watershed is. So addressing it strategically and regionally is the only way you will deal with these kinds of problems."

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