City staff, council seek fixes to drainage problems

Officials weigh options from presentation at study session after new sinkhole opens

Posted 7/15/19

When last year's July storm swept through the streets of Englewood, one woman was left dead and others were left with thousands of dollars of property damage — including Englewood resident Jennifer …

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City staff, council seek fixes to drainage problems

Officials weigh options from presentation at study session after new sinkhole opens

Posted

When last year's July storm swept through the streets of Englewood, one woman was left dead and others were left with thousands of dollars of property damage — including Englewood resident Jennifer Almsteier.

She has lived along the 4600 block of South Acoma for nearly 20 years and when the storm hit, her basement, where her daughter's room is at, was flooded. Almsteier's family relies on a single income, and she was left with $20,000 of damage.

“Whenever it hails, (my daughter) freaks out. I don't have the money to make my house not flood again when my house shouldn't have water coming in,” said Almsteier.

Englewood City Council has been working to fix the city's flooding problem, which became even more apparent when heavy rain opened a sinkhole near Santa Fe Drive and West Oxford Avenue, causing traffic shutdowns. At a July 8 study session, city staff recommended options to fix the city's drainage problems.

Englewood Director of Public Works Maria D'Andrea and Gregory Murphy, founder of Calibre Engineering, a civil engineering firm that worked on the city's Storm Water Analysis and Alternatives Feasibility study, presented options to the city council on how to tackle Englewood's drainage issues. The recommended funds needed would exceed $50 million.

City staff wants to get $3 million in funding from the Capital Project Fund balance to go toward Englewood's storm water utility fund. Other recommendations include establishing a floodproofing program that would gives residents 50% back of what it would cost to voluntarily install flood control measures at a home in a flood risk zone and designing and constructing capital projects over the next 10 years.

Flood risk zones include the area where Almsteier lives and the 4600 block of South Bannock.

“There is an undersized storm water system collection within the city and the piping system,” said D'Andrea, adding that Englewood's storm water system could dramatically improve by constructing and expanding a larger storm sewer system.

Staff recommendations also included cleaning out the Oxford pipe from east of South Santa Fe Drive to the South Platte River. D'Andrea said that process could be completed by the fall.

“The problem (the Oxford Pipe) has had is immediate life concerns,” said Murphy.

Staff brought up the idea of establishing a voluntary property acquisition program where flood waters exceed two feet in depth, but City Council struck down the idea, citing worries about costs and legality.

Next steps will be to conduct a fee study to learn more about storm water utility rates, carry out an assessment of the city's current storm sewer condition, create a capital maintenance plan, educate citizens and gather input, and issue bonds to fund administrative, maintenance and capital funds, according to city documents.

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