Town staff details what to expect in future flooding events
June 20, 2014
After flooding shut down roadways in and around Windsor in past weeks, town staff members presented the public with information Monday during the Windsor Town Board meeting about what to expect during a future flood event.
The weekend of May 30 brought warm weather and rains that caused the Poudre River to swell to 6,000 cubic feet per second, Town Manager Kelly Arnold said. On Monday, he said river flows had fallen below 3,000 cubic feet per second.
Town staff had prepared for flooding caused by spring runoff, but was unprepared for the size and duration of the recent flooding event, he said.
Arnold said Weld County Road 13 experienced both high-level and low-level flooding, where low-level is flooding that occurs below 3,000 cubic feet per second. He said in order to keep the road open for the next few weeks, town staff will need to be continuously monitoring the road shoulders for water. He said as long as the river flows don’t increase, the town should be able to keep the road open.
Town Engineering Director Dennis Wagner said the town is not able to raise the roadway to avoid future flooding because the road is in a floodway, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency mandates that the ground cannot be raised in a floodway.
Colo. 257 was closed for three days during the flood, cutting off north and south travel through Windsor. During the closures, he said the town worked closely with the Colorado Department of Transportation to get the word out to the public.
“That’s obviously a difficult time,” Arnold said.
He said anytime the town experiences high-level flooding, north and south transportation in town will be affected along Colo. 257. He also said the high water created a sedimentation island just west of the bridge, which could be redirecting the flow of the river water.
The water also flooded two Xcel facilities located near 7th Street and Eastman Park Drive, causing power outages for nearby residents until Xcel was able to elevate the boxes June 5. Arnold said the work was a possible permanent fix to the problem.
The town and Xcel have been aware of the problem since 2010 and the town had been in talks with Xcel to fix the issue.
Board member Jeremy Rose asked if the problem was known about in 2010, why wasn’t anything fixed until now. Mayor John Vazquez said the town asked Xcel to complete the work in 2010 but Xcel said it was too expensive.
“It’s not our utility and we don’t have the ability to do these things,” Vazquez said.
The last flood-impacted area covered in the presentation was 7th Street, where floodwaters closed the street at the intersection with Eastman Park Drive for about two weeks.
Arnold said when Poudre River flows exceed 3,000 cubic feet per second, the river will flow over its banks into the unimproved area in south Eastman Park. At 4,500 or more, he said it would likely completely fill the unimproved area and necessitate the closure of 7th Street. He said it would be cost prohibitive for the town to make improvements to stop any high-level flood events from flooding 7th Street.
“There’s not much we can do after that type of event,” Arnold said.