Crystola residents concerned about flooding

The people in Crystola are upset about water that flows from Woodland Park past Walmart and on down to the creek by their homes. The concrete blocks serve no purpose at all. This photo was taken in early August. Courtesy photo
Pat Hill
Posted

Water, water, everywhere and where it stops ... is Crystola, Green Mountain Falls, Chipita Park and Cascade.

With the recent rainstorms in Ute Pass, landowners in Crystola are feeling like victims. In mid-July, water took out bridges, culverts and threatens at least one leach field in the area.

“If more water breaches the leach field, all of that waste will go into Fountain Creek,” said Sally Clark who, with her husband Bill Clark, lives in Crystola Canyon in Teller County.

Clark and her neighbors are concerned that federal authorities are planning to extend floodplain boundaries by 200 feet on either side of the creek, making insurance that much more difficult to get.

“The overflow is not from the creek,” she said. “Either culverts, the bridges or any upstream mitigation failed or was never planned at all.”

Marco Biswas has lost nearly 10 acres as a result of the floods that deliver sand and debris to the property. It’s his leach field that’s threatened.

Biswas bought 15 acres and the home at 404 Teller County Road 21 in 1996. Until three years ago, the creek stayed within its banks, with only a small stream, a trickle, he said, running through his property. “The flow was controlled by the city’s water-purification system and the retention ponds,” Biswas said. “The flow wasn’t bad because the businesses weren’t all paved.”

Today, that purification system has been moved to north Colorado 67.

Biswas says that, during heavy rainfalls such as the two-day storm in mid-July, water flowing down the creek from Woodland Park meets dirt running along CR 21 at the southend of Wal-Mart. “The only way to improve the stream is not to put sand and debris into it,” he said.

Biswas’s proposed solution is to pave a few more roads in the area and channel all of the water into a pipe-delivery system installed under CR21. “Teller County and Woodland Park need to get together — it’s going to cost money but if they keep doing what they’ve always done, the same thing is going to happen,” he said.

While the Clarks’ property has escaped flood damage, she is organizing the neighbors into a coalition with the idea of scheduling a town-hall meeting. “I want to make people aware of what the risks are and what it can cost them financially, get them involved so that we get the proper mitigation,” she said. “If the work had been done properly to begin with, this never would have happened. So all of these people are going to be penalized and some may not recover.”

Clark isn’t laying the blame entirely on Teller County or Woodland Park. “You can’t predict the weather, we all know that,” she said.

In the meantime, Clark encourages her neighbors to contact local officials. “They need to tell us what we can do now to protect ourselves,” she said. “We need to take some responsibility and do a temporary fix so that we can protect our property, our animals and our families.”

GREEN MOUNTAIN FALLS

Dani Hainds and her family have lived near the banks of Fountain Creek in Green Mountain Falls for 24 years. “In the last three years I’ve never seen it this bad,” she said. To date, the family has lost several trees, including a 50-foot cottonwood, because of erosion of the stream bank. “We’re losing land,” she said.

Hainds acknowledges that the creek bed narrows as water flows downstream. “But it’s been like that forever,” she said. “We’re in a floodplain and we have flood insurance.”

With all the devastation up and down Ute Pass, Hainds is confused about whom to call for help. While she is concerned that water from the Safeway parking lot in Woodland Park increases the flow in the creek, still it’s the amount of rainfall, she said, that’s the main culprit. “It has been wetter in the last three years — it’s climate change,” she said.

To contact Sally Clark, email clarkscrystola72@gmail.com.