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HCWCD Wraps Up Two Flood Mitigation Projects

At its January 25 online board meeting, the Huerfano County Water Conservancy District learned that two more flood mitigation grant projects have been closed out, while another, in the amount of

$500,000 and scheduled to span the next two years, is just beginning.

David Steffan, Natural Resource Tech II and local project director for Arkansas River Watershed Collaborative (ARWC), reported that the final details were finished in December on Spring Creek Fire (SCF) Flood Mitigation Phase 3, the third chunk of funding from a $500,000 grant approved by the Colorado Water Conservation Board in January, 2019. Phase 3 included hydrology, hydraulics and geomorphic analysis of the Middle Creek and Indian Creek watersheds, plus a prioritization report of potential mitigation projects. ARWC served as HCWCD’s contractor on the grant project, orchestrating on-the-ground surveys of potential tasks that could have the most impact – given limited funding – toward reducing severe erosion and sedimentation from the burn scar.

The second project, Nonpoint Source BMPs, was approved for funding on October 30, 2020 by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in the amount of $185,916. It resulted in nine on-the-ground BMP (best management practice) projects in the Pass Creek watershed, plus three in the watersheds of Middle and South Abeyta Creeks. Local heavy equipment contractors were utilized as much as possible, and Steffan and Theresa Springer, ARWC Wildland Fire Rehab Coordinator, coordinated and participated in much of the hands-on and smaller equipment tasks.

The next phase of the SCF flood mitigation effort is the “2020” project, which was approved in October, 2020. ARWC will again serve as contractor for the two-year project. Steffan reported that a core team, including HCWCD board member Lonnie Brown and Paul Branson with Huerfano County, will prioritize potential projects. A group of local stakeholders will meet in mid-February to discuss the projects and help examine their viability. Steffan said stream channels have been deeply incised by flooding over the past couple of years. Streams have lost their floodplain connection, and sediment needs to be held back and impounded where possible. ARWC is a strong proponent of using locally-sourced materials – such as rock and dead timber – to construct many of the structures on the flood mitigation projects.

The final reports for these projects can be found on the HCWCD website under Post Fire Projects at .

During the meeting, water engineer Justin Korkus, with Lamp Rynearson, reported that Phase 4 of the Sheep Mountain augmentation facility project is just about to wrap up. The project is located about two miles west of Gardner and includes a 42 acre-foot reservoir, finished at the end of 2019, as well as a pipeline connecting it to a newly constructed diversion structure – complete with fish ladder – on the Huerfano River. Plans are proceeding for Phase 5, which includes taking delivery of and setting a modular pumphouse, connecting the pipes and electrical, and dialing in the telemetry that will make it possible to operate the diversion gates remotely in case of flash flooding from Pass Creek.


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