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New Study details debris, sediment flow within Waldo Canyon burn scar

By Rachael Plath, Good Morning Colorado Meteorologist/Reporter, r.plath@krdo.com
Published On: May 02 2013 06:30:45 PM CDT

The Watershed Assessment of River Stability and Sediment Supply was released Thursday and determines the areas at greatest risk for flooding and details locations and mitigation techniques to reduce the risk.

At a meeting on Thursday the results of an extensive study regarding debris and sediment flow around the Waldo Canyon burn scar were reported.

The Watershed Assessment of River Stability and Sediment Supply, or WARSSS, sought to identify locations and types of mitigation projects which will most effectively reduce the risk of catastrophic flooding. 

According to El Paso County public information officer, Dave Rose, of particular concern this year is the potential for culverts to become clogged with debris and sediment flushed from the burn scar.  He said information from this study will be used to assist in the construction of mitigation efforts.

“If water goes through that culvert, it’s all well and good.  If it cannot go through that culvert, it may spread out in all directions beyond there,” said Rose.

The mudslide that covered portions of Highway 24 last summer was attributed to a culvert that became clogged by an empty horse trailer that had been washed down the mountainside.  Rather than passing beneath the road, the water was forced up and over the highway causing extensive damage and closures.  Rose said the WARSSS targets what caused this event to occur.

Rose cited areas such as those along Camp and Douglas creek, Ute Pass, Wellington Gulch, William’s Canyon and Manitou Springs as being among those that are at high risk.  He added, that even those not in these areas could be at risk when it comes to flooding this season.

“Some folks who are not at risk by the proper drainage will be put at risk if in fact culverts get plugged up,” said Rose.

Information from this study will be used in a second study that will be completed by this summer.  This second study will not focus on where the water will go, like the WARSSS, but instead will focus on how fast the water will be traveling and how quickly the water will arrive.  Rose said this information will then be used to make decisions regarding emergency response procedures.

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