Sediment in Fountain Creek still keeps water level high despite lack of rain
Fountain Creek's water level remained high Tuesday despite the absence of rain, causing water to pound buildings' vulnerable foundations and overflow its banks in some areas.
It didn't rain Tuesday but the nightmare wasn't over for some homes and businesses. Rushing water continued to pound buildings built over Fountain Creek. Sediment and Debris diverted water out of the creek's banks and onto properties along the 1300 block of Manitou Avenue. Water was seen rushing into the lower level of a building marked as Manitou Springs Bottling Plant.
Heavy rain broughT sediment along with water down the canyon. Sediment filled the creek bed, causing water levels to rise.
"This bank used to drop down 7 to 8 feet," said Rob Bowen, gesturing to Fountain Creek running along the back of the property he managed on Cañon Avenue. "Now it's just full of mud, rocks and sediment."
Bowen knows what a difference a year can make. He's watched the creek transform through the floods.
"None of these rock beds like along this wall used to be there. These are up now about 7 feet in places and it's leaving very little place for the water to go and drain off," said Bowen.
Bowmen manages the building along Manitou Avenue. Cindy Odlin owns it. They pumped several feet of water out of the building's basement over the weekend. The problem is sediment has filled the creek bed, pushing water higher. It's caused basements along the creek to flood.
"The creek has to be reduced to its pre-flood levels," said Odlin.
Water normally pushes sediment downstream over time. Fountain Creek could be an exception to that rule.
"We are talking hundreds of thousands of tons of debris," said Manitou Springs City Administrator Jack Benson.
The city of Manitou Springs will hire an outside engineer to figure out what can be done to lower the water level. Benson doesn't know what that plan will be, but he knows it won't be easy oR cheap. The city will also need to figure out how, and who, will pay for it.
"Everybody has got lots of ideas. I think the first thing on the plate is people would like to see the creek dredged out. That's going to be a huge challenge," said Benson. "We've got a lot of encroachment, the business district is encroached on Fountain Creek. People have actually built over Fountain Creek so it's not like you can get a machine in there and just start digging out."
One thing is certain: No work can be done until the creek level is lower. The city wants to have work completed before next year's rainy season hits in July.
The contracted engineer will meet with Manitou Springs' Flood Coalition on Sept. 25 to go over plans for the creek.
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