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Drainage problems evade solutions in El Paso County

By Scott Harrison
Published On: Aug 02 2012 01:00:02 AM CDT

KRDO Newschannel 13's Scott Harrsion talks with an El Paso County engineer about flooding concerns in the Fountain Valley area.

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. -

The Fountain Valley area's original development didn't include an adequate drainage system to handle current stormwater needs, a local official said on Wednesday.

Andre Brackin, the El Paso County Engineer, said the area, specifically the communities of Security and Widefield, have only a few drainage channels for runoff to drain into Fountain Creek.

Those communities were established in the 1950s and have grown since then, said Brackin.  He estimated that addressing the area's stormwater needs would cost $10 million -- an amount the county can't afford.

"It's a challenge to us every year," said Brackin.  "All the maintenance (crews) can do is clean up after the storms.  We've done small repairs (on) some of the channels, but nothing that would really go a long way to solving the problem."

The lack of funds means the county also can't afford to clear vegetation and rubbish out of the few existing drainage channels, such as the one along Widefield Boulevard. 

Van Kolb, the father of a neighbor, says his daughter plans to move soon because  the clogged channel contributes to flooding and erosion around her home.

"Ten years ago, this area was open and you could see across the street," said Kolb.  "There were no trees and they kept it mowed.  Then (the county) stopped.  When we tried to maintain it, they said to stop because it wasn't our responsibility.  I don't know if it cuts down on property values."

Another trouble spot, farther south near the city of Fountain border, is the Peaceful Valley Road bridge at Jimmy Camp Creek.  Neighbors say the low-lying area floods often since a nearby golf course closed.  A flood there on Monday night swept a woman's car away, but she escaped unharmed.

Brackin said because that area crosses two jurisdictions, an agreement must be reached to determine a solution.  But he said that process can take a long time because it can involve road construction and moving utility lines.

Ultimately, said Brackin, local leaders must consider enacting some type of regional fee or tax to pay for stormwater improvements.  He said the county has a backlog of as much as $100 million in needed improvements.

A similar fee, the Stormwater Enterprise in Colorado Springs, was enacted in 2005 and was discontinued due to public opposition in 2009.

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