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Colorado Springs gets $4.6 million from FEMA for stormwater projects

Colorado Springs is getting some federal help to start and complete two major stormwater projects.

City officials announced last week that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide a $4.6 million grant from a pre-disaster mitigation program, designed to reduce risk and spending from future disasters.

FEMA is paying 75 percent of the cost of two projects to stabilize creek banks and stop erosion caused by flooding in 2013 and 2015.

The city will use $2.6 million of the grant on a section of Douglas Creek, below Sinton Road and south of the interchange at Interstate 25 and Garden of the Gods Road.

Erosion at that location is affecting two adjacent commercial properties, has already damaged some utility lines and could eventually undermine Sinton Road.

The city will use the remaining grant on a similar project in Pine Creek, near the intersection of Briargate Parkway and Chapel Hills Drive.

Homes line both sides of the creek but are closer on the north side, where some work has been done to improve drainage and reduce erosion.

The Pine Creek project will include an upstream retention pond to prevent flash flooding and erosion by holding runoff during heavy storm events and gradually releasing it later.

The actual cost of both projects is $6.1 million but the city is paying 25 percent to qualify for the 75 percent match from FEMA.

The city has yet to release a schedule for starting and finishing the projects.

In a related matter, the city has been waiting since early November to learn its penalty for violating federal stormwater regulations.

A federal judge ruled that the city was in violation on three separate occasions, in three separate locations.

The city was sued in 2016 by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Pueblo County and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said the city is now trying to settle the the case to avoid paying a large fine.

Suthers and the plaintiffs are hopeful of a resolution because a large fine might negatively affect the city’s ability to meet its commitment to complete $460 million in projects over the next 20 years.


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