'Stormwater Canyon' becomes priority in Colorado Springs

Drainage, erosion problems ignored for 30 years, neighbors say

Colorado Springs Makes "Stormwater Canyon" a Priority

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - An area of northwest Colorado Springs nicknamed the "Stormwater Canyon" could be the face of the city's many drainage issues.

The canyon is on a bluff between Popes Valley and Pebblewood drives.  Runoff from homes above a cliff have eroded a canyon in the bluff which becomes a waterfall during heavy rain.

Stormwater, rocks and other debris have twice this year flooded the home of Mike and Laurel Chiaramonte, who live closest to the bottom of the bluff.

"We had no idea this would happen when we bought the home three years ago," Chiaramonte said.  "We got it on foreclosure, so no one warned us about the drainage.  It didn't flood for the first time until May."

Flooding has washed out landscaping and soaked the home's basement, forcing the family to replace part of their driveway.  Chiaramonte said insurance doesn't cover damage amounting to nearly $20,000.

Chiaramonte is upset that the city won't reimburse them for the damage.

"We have documentation for 30 years that this was supposed to be fixed, and it never has been," she said.  "We're insulted and angry.  It's depressing."

Chiaramonte said she can't even move out of the home because the flooding has decreased its value.

The situation eventually could not only affect other homes below the bluff, but condominiums above the cliff on Pebblewood Drive.  The back row of homes is right along the cliff's edge, and erosion is gradually wearing away the ground underneath.  A red safety fence has been placed in the area of greatest erosion.

A woman who lives closer to the front of the condominium complex said she has already noticed her property gradually slumping toward the edge. 

Tim Mitros, the city's stormwater manager, said the canyon "is a big problem."  On Tuesday, he sent workers to the Chiaramonte's home to install hay bales to protect the side facing the drainage.

Mitros said the city will begin finding a permanent solution on Friday.

"We're going to meet with consultants and contractors," he said.  "We'll ask contractors to submit proposals on how to correct the situation.  This has become a priority."

Mitros said work on the canyon could begin this winter.

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