South Boulder Creek Flood Mitigation/CU South

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The South Boulder Creek Flood Mitigation Project is a 17-year effort to study and take community/and advisory board feedback about how best to protect residences and parts of town that are at risk for catastrophic flooding from the South Boulder Creek drainage-way.


In February 2020, City Council indicated a preference for a 100-year flood protection because it has the least environmental impacts, the lowest cost and the greatest probability of meeting the project design criteria. Prior to making a formal flood design level recommendation on June 16, 2020, City Council has requested that staff update the public on the project status and seek input on the remaining items at this stage in the conceptual flood design. Specific topics of interest, including upstream detention viability and and open space and environmental mitigation, will be areas of focus at the June 3, 2020 Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) meeting.


The purpose of this Be Heard Boulder Project page is to give the Boulder community an opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts related to flood project tradeoffs, design or flood design information previously provided to council.


The following is a graphic that shows engagement related to the flood design between now and mid-June 2020.


The South Boulder Creek Flood Mitigation Project is a 17-year effort to study and take community/and advisory board feedback about how best to protect residences and parts of town that are at risk for catastrophic flooding from the South Boulder Creek drainage-way.


In February 2020, City Council indicated a preference for a 100-year flood protection because it has the least environmental impacts, the lowest cost and the greatest probability of meeting the project design criteria. Prior to making a formal flood design level recommendation on June 16, 2020, City Council has requested that staff update the public on the project status and seek input on the remaining items at this stage in the conceptual flood design. Specific topics of interest, including upstream detention viability and and open space and environmental mitigation, will be areas of focus at the June 3, 2020 Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) meeting.


The purpose of this Be Heard Boulder Project page is to give the Boulder community an opportunity to ask questions and share thoughts related to flood project tradeoffs, design or flood design information previously provided to council.


The following is a graphic that shows engagement related to the flood design between now and mid-June 2020.


Share your thoughts with council about the proposed 100-year flood design.

Comments posted here will not be responded to by staff, but will be included in the packet that goes to council in advance of the June 16, 2020 meeting. We know there is lots of passion around this issue -- and we want to encourage meaningful and inclusive conversation. Please be concise and polite.

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

For the long past due protection and safety of 3000 plus South Boulder residents, please move the Variant 1/100 year plan forward in order to enable more detailed planning and engineering analysis. I believe that consideration of a 500-year plan is morally and ethically wrong given millions of dollars already spent to provide a 100-year plan that will not only provide needed protection, but allow City Council members to work on other issues that need their attention. Please waste no more time on this - just move it forward. Thank you

PatCarden about 2 months ago

CU has been the biggest impediment to the timely implementation of South Boulder Creek flood mitigation plans.When CU purchased its flood prone depleted gravel pit in 1996, 220 acres were designated for Open Space and only 88 acres were designated for development.When CU purchased the property, the reclamation plan for the gravel pit included several large ponds and wetlands that would abate flooding. The reclamation plan did not include a 6,000' levee to divert floodwaters around the gravel pit onto neighboring properties, and the reclamation plan stated "After reclamation, the mine site will become suitable for wildlife habitat".In 1997, CU screwed the city by refusing to cooperate with the city to address known flooding problems and by using its political clout to revise the gravel pit reclamation plan to "accommodate maximum potential development". Against strong objections from both the City and the County, CU revised the reclamation plan to eliminate ponds and riparian areas which would abate flooding and by adding a 6,000' levee around its gravel pit to divert floodwaters onto neighboring properties.As a result, when the 2013 flood hit, the depleted excavated gravel pit was dry while the Frasier Meadows Retirement Community and hundreds of residences were flooded.In 2018, the City Council approved a flood mitigation option referred to as Variant 1, 500-year. The estimated cost for that option was $35 million. But CU's Frances Draper, placing a higher priority on maximizing development of CU's gravel pit than on protecting the lives and safety of Boulder residents, wrote a letter to the city stating:"We are writing to you today to provide notice that the university, as the landowner, does not agree to Variant I 500. Neither of our organizations should expend further staff or financial resources to continue to pursue Variant I 500."Instead of standing up to CU's bullying, the city directed its staff to come up with alternatives to meet CU's demands. Such plans now include decreasing flood protection to downstream residents in order to provide CU 129 acres (52 city blocks) of land out of the floodplain, and importing 1.3 million cubic yards of fill at a cost of $34 million to replace the sand and gravel removed from CU's gravel pit in order to raise the land out of the floodplain. The total cost of that plan is $96 million, up $61 million from the Variant 1 500-year plan approved in 2018.CU teaches classes on environmental design and continually uses the words resilient and sustainable to describe its activities. But CU's activities on CU South violate the most basic fundamental principles of sound environmental design.Instead of caving in to CU's bullying and extortion, why doesn't the city let the world know about these activities and disgrace and embarrass the university into doing the right thing, which is allowing the city to use the land it needs to protect its citizens' lives and property from flooding?

B. Binder about 2 months ago

There have been repeated errors in both process and design (planning a structure on CDOT right-of-way without consulting with CDOT, for example) which are not confidence-inspiring. Upstream alternatives have not been examined appropriately. We should not proceed with a design that will not handle floods at the current 500-year model. Climate change guarantees that more extreme flooding events are to be expected. Finally, though moving forward is critical, rushing to build a design that won't actually protect residents will only provide a false sense of security.

rbridge about 2 months ago

In City Council's Feb 25 Study Session packet, Section 3.5 of the RJH report states that FEMA issued a Letter of Map Revision in 2017 for the Rt 36 widening project near South Boulder Creek. By issuing that LOMR, isn't FEMA saying implicitly that the Rt 36 embankment is an acceptable flood control structure? Does the City have any documentation from FEMA of from CDOT that the Rt 36 embankment is not acceptable as a flood control structure?

gnm about 2 months ago

Please proceed with the Variant 1/100-year plan as soon as possible. The 2013 flood was devastating to Frasier Meadows Retirement Community, and too much time has passed without mitigation.

janethbrewer about 2 months ago

I have stood many times before Boards & City Council explaining the traumatic effect the flood had on my life on Qualla Dr. If the Flood of Sept. 2013 would have arrived after my daughter, wife and I had went to bed in our basement, we would not survived. The water broke through 2 basement windows in my daughter's room, filled the basement all the way to the ceiling, bursting out the windows above the bed in our master bedroom on the opposite side of the house.After 3 years of stress, anxiety and solutions still years away, our family decided that we could no longer live that way. We sold our house, but were unable to find anything comparable in Boulder not in a flood plain(Our house was mapped into the flood plain in 2012). It is very sad that a 3rd generation native born in Boulder had to move to feel safe.It is very sad & troubling that after almost 7 yrs my friends are no closer to a resolution than the day this happened. Many other cities have already completed mitigation efforts!Please make the health and safety of people your first priority by getting flood mitigation done before lives are lost.Please continue efforts towards implementing variant 1/100 yr protection. It is the least environmentally damaging, has the best probability of getting permitted & the lowest cost.Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

RM about 2 months ago

Please proceed with the Variant 1 / 100-year plan as quickly as possible. All other considerations are insignificant compared to the safety of Boulder residents. The city has dragged its feet long enough. It's time to protect your constituents!

JJS about 2 months ago

I live in a neighborhood that is included in the impacted area and support the Variant 1/100 year design option. Please take action to move forward with protecting the citizens of Boulder from another flood event.

AAdams about 2 months ago

Variant 1/100-yr is not only the lowest cost avenue which also represents the least environmental disruption, but it likely has the best probability of success through permitting.Like many, our family has lived in Boulder for over 20 years and – during that time – like all of you - we’ve seen a lot. That includes of course the wildfires in 2012 and the floods of 2013 – which makes some of the issues that you are dealing with – quite real – for us.Let’s have a sense of urgency to get this done because our community safety depends on it. The time is now to act and mitigate the devastation that is surely only a matter of time.

bouldernatural about 2 months ago

I live in the effected neighborhood and have been feeling uneasy for the last seven years after part of my home was destroyed. Please move this project forward now. With variant 1/ 100 years. Me and my family will be thanking you for generations to come.

E Dornberger about 2 months ago

The ranked questionnaire is biased towards CU's interests. It requires respondents to rank every single predefined item, but there is only one opportunity for respondents to define a priority of their own. Some of the items listed are so unimportant to me that I would have preferred to remove them entirely. Flood mitigation considerations aren't even included in the list. That is unacceptable. I urge the council to continue prioritizing the protection of Boulder residents and the environment over the interests of future construction/development in a flood-prone area.

jcwst about 2 months ago

I live in the impacted area and fully support the 100 yr variant. This has been responsibly vetted and it is time to move forward. It’s now been 7 years since the last devastating flood and we are therefore now likely 7 years closer to the next flood threatening life and property in southeast Boulder. Let’s get moving forward with construction and resident flood protections consistent with those in other Boulder neighborhoods.

J C Hen about 2 months ago

Once again I implore you to act on flood mitigation for South Boulder Creek. You have a reasonable, permit-able, plan that has been recommended by Boulder city staff in the V1, 100 year option. I have watched my street change as long term neighbors sell their homes (to be replaced by renters) in frustration for what they see as complete inaction by the City of Boulder. It has been over 5 years since the 2013 flood and we are realistically no closer to a solution. How can this be when our city is probably the MOST at risk population center in the state of Colorado? Even the City Facebook page acknowledges this grave threat.Protect your THOUSANDS of affected citizens and take action. Do not continue the delay tactics and kick the can down the road for another 10 years. We are counting on you.

rhibbard about 2 months ago

Please consider upstream detention, using the upstream quarry pits, the 500 year flood plan, and a land trade with CU, using the North Boulder Planning Reserve. The interdependent relationships among many plants, microbes, animals, soils, and moisture are impossible to replace. The protection of human and wildlife health should come before CU's desire to build in an area that is prone to floods. This area was planned to be open space until the earlier owner, a Flatirons company, figured out that they could avoid city and county laws by selling to CU, a state entity that could ignore local laws. Steve Pomerance in the Daily Camera on 2-20-20 says that CU wants the city to pay upwards of $100 million in constructing roads and in liability costs. Pomerance wrote that the 100 year -dam would be insufficient, given that climate change is causing more frequent and more intense storms. CU should not be allowed to build in the wetlands. Pomerance wrote that “City Council could condemn the land and use it to provide the maximum level of protection for south Boulder dwellings and emergency response routes consistent with preserving and restoring the natural habitat as the original restoration plan envisioned, and thereby avoiding the huge liability (that we taxpayers would bear) that comes with an inadequate design. Condemnation is legally feasible, because Boulder has an immediate need for the land for flood mitigation to protect lives and property, and CU is not currently using the land and still has no definite plans. Then use the savings to do the flood improvements for the rest of us who were also hard hit by the 2013 flood. These measures are mostly along smaller tributaries, and are much less expensive. The cost to obtain CU’s land that is needed for adequate flood protection should not be that great; this un-annexed county land is limited to one or two dwellings per 35 acres and is further restricted by wetlands, endangered species, lack of utilities and flood risk.” https://www.dailycamera.com/2020/02/20/opinion-steve-pomerance-should-boulder-condemn-cu-south

3ouzel about 2 months ago

I support Variant 1/100 year. Please move this project forward and quickly. Thank you!

ams about 2 months ago

The Variant 1/100 year design option has my wholehearted support and I live in the impacted area. Please move forward with all speed. Thank you.

Laura Tyler about 2 months ago

As the Variant 1/100-yr. design is presented as the Council’s preferred option, I would like to encourage you to move as quickly as possible on this alternative. I understand there is much additional analysis that staff needs to undertake to start the permitting process and many of us would be grateful to know that this is moving forward expeditiously. I support your preferred option as it is clearly the least expensive, the least environmentally impactive (more potential for permitting success) and protects 1000s of residents at the FEMA design standard of 100-yr. flood protection. For all these reasons, it seems this option seems the most likely to be accomplished given the numerous other difficulties with other alternatives. I do not expect the City to build an unprecedented level of flood protection at South Boulder Creek. We all share in flood control costs throughout the City and issues of equity are also of concern as expressed by the WRAB at their recent meeting. Please move quickly to move the Variant 1/100-yr. option into more detailed analysis so that this long-overdue flood control project can finally be built, ensuring the safety of 1000s of residents who remain unprotected.

watersong22 about 2 months ago

I support option 1, the 100 year design, as one that can win the support of the majority of Boulder citizens. I believe that in conjunction with selecting the Variant 1 plan that the city should explore a land exchange with CU for the Area III Planning Reserve.

wrawsky about 2 months ago

Please proceed with Variant 1, 100-year design.

CarolW about 2 months ago

I am writing in support the city’s Variant 1, the 100-year plan to protect all of the citizens of Boulder. The plan has been studied and vetted extensively (and expensively) over a long period of time.

lizbj about 2 months ago