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$4.6 million stormwater project on North Douglas Creek in Colorado Springs nears completion

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- A drainage channel that caused erosion bad enough to threaten adjacent businesses, utility lines and railroad tracks, as well as Interstate 25 and Sinton Road, is around a month away from the end of a major restoration.


Last summer, workers began upgrades to North Douglas Creek, where it flows under I-25 and Sinton, between Fillmore Street and Garden of the Gods Road.

City of Colorado Springs

Deteriorating concrete allowed stormwater to flow at speeds of 20 mph, which sped the process of erosion on both sides of the creek -- washing away perimeter fences and part of business property on the south bank.

Workers made improvements and added structures to slow the stormwater flow and reduce erosion, and also rebuilt part of a culvert under I-25 that had fallen into the creek.

City of Colorado Springs

John Lynch is general manager of Foxworth Galbraith, a manufacturing business on the south bank of the creek.

"Erosion has probably taken about 5% and 10% of the land in that area," he explained. "And if I put it in feet, it's been about 15 feet. It's very concerning. It's a safety concern and we have to push our manufactured products back, each time that the creek is eroding."


Lynch said that exposes the business to vagrants and people experiencing homelessness.

"They take our lumber to build structures, or to burn it to stay warm during the winter," he said. "So, we're glad the see the project happen. We can't get back the land we lost, but that's OK if the improvements will last. We made a deal with the city to maybe get a new perimeter fence in lieu of replacing the land we lost."


The project is one of 71 stormwater infrastructure improvements the city agreed to make in 2016 to avoid a lawsuit by Pueblo County, which had accused the city of failing to properly manage its stormwater system to protect downstream damage to Fountain Creek; the city agreed to spend $460 million over 20 years to finance the work.

"We're ahead of schedule on those," said stormwater manager Richard Mulledy. "We've completed a third of them, and we should complete them ahead of schedule."


In November 2020, KRDO broke the story that the EPA levied a $2 million fine against Colorado Springs because of past stormwater neglect, and required the city to commit to an additional $43 million in upgrades.

City of Colorado Springs

"That was the best outcome for us," said Mayor John Suthers. "Without that agreement with Pueblo County, we likely would have paid even more in fines. This is one of the things that, when I look back on my tenure as mayor, I'm most proud of. We have turned what was both a physical and legal deficiency into a real positive, and I think we're not only on the right track, but we'll have one of the best stormwater programs in Colorado, if not the best."


In October 2017, Suthers led a VIP tour of North Douglas Creek and other stormwater systems needing improvements; the following month, voters passed his proposal to reinstate a stormwater fee to pay for projects after a similar fee was rescinded by the City Council -- amid public criticism -- in 2011.


The fee has been increased several times, however, to pay the $2 million fine.


The $4.6 million cost of the North Douglas Creek project is being financed by the city's Stormwater Enterprise, Colorado Springs Utilities and a FEMA grant.

Workers are diverting the creek flow around the construction zone during the project.

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.


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