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Flooding and drainage maintenance

According to, Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas receives an average of 16.56 inches of rain per year. However, in May alone, 8.13 inches fell on the region, beating the old record of 8.10 inches set in 1935, according to the National Weather Serviceís website.The rain in May also broke the all-time record for the wettest month in Colorado, since the NWSís records began in 1894.Andre Brackin, county engineer with the El Paso County public services department, said with storms like the ones the region has experienced this spring and summer, more flooding is likely because drainage systems are not being properly maintained.Trying to determine who is responsible for maintaining the drainage systems is the challenge, Brackin said. ìThe county is responsible for county public rights-of-way, county roads, county tracts or easements,î he said. ìMost people in the public believe that if it has anything to do with drainage within the county, the county is responsible. Thatís incorrect. We can only spend county money on county public rights-of-way, county roads ó things like that.îMost of the drainage ways in the county are privately owned, something that many people may not realize, Brackin said. Landowners that have large parcels with a significant amount of drainage ways on their property are a large part of the flooding issues, if they are not maintaining their drainage systems, he said.ìThey (property owners) can be held liable in a civil law kind of matter, if they do not maintain their drainage; and it impacts another private property owner,î Brackin said. ìThey need to be looking at their own private property; and, if there is a drainage channel there, they need to clean it out because we canít.îWith the rise in development in the Falcon area, Brackin said he and his staff oversee each new development to make sure the infrastructure being put in place meets the countyís standards. And, because those standards are being met, there is not much else the county can ask from the developers as far as mitigating the flooding issues, he said.ìThe way the county has asked for more (help from developers) is for oversized detention ponds for greater storage,î Brackin said. The county needs to continue to have developers do their part upfront with the infrastructure, adding that, in his opinion, developers are doing their part.Raul Guzman with GTL Inc. said, as the developer, GTL designs all the drainage basins and structures to handle a 100-year event, or a storm that has a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year. ìIf you have properly engineered your drainage system to handle from a regular rain event all the way through the 100-year event, and youíve properly maintained the drainage; you have done your part,î he said.Besides the initial drainage design, Guzman said GTL routinely retains and releases water at a lower threshold than is required. The water is retained on site in detention basins, and then released at a slower rate so it does not overwhelm the drainage system, he said.Even with the recent heavy rains, Guzman said that GTLís drainage basins in Meridian Ranch did not overflow, which indicates the basins retained the water as they were designed to do, preventing flooding in those areas.Brackin said there are no funds available to pay for proper drainage system maintenance. Passing a ballot measure to secure a dedicated funding stream for the county and the city that would be used just for drainage maintenance is the only solution, but that is up to the residents to approve, he said.Mistakes have been made in overseeing drainage infrastructure, Brackin said. ìIn past years, we did not have any drainage standards,î he said.ìThere is an entire area in Security where there is no storm drain system. In the 1950s and 1960s, when all that construction was going on, they did not build those systems.ìI think we have it right as far as the land development code and drainage standards for new development now. But maintenance upfront is the best bet because it takes a lot to clean a drainage system out.î

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