Watershed Restoration Continues Without House Assistance
The U.S. House of Representatives chose not to add emergency watershed restoration funding to the most recent Hurricane Sandy relief bill that was passed on Tuesday.
Both Larimer County Recovery Manager Suzanne Bassinger and Director John Monson with Greeley Water say the federal funding would have played a significant role in helping the restoration efforts and mitigate additional watershed damage following the High Park Fire.
Greeley water managers have been diligently working to restore areas along the city's main source of drinking water. Thanks to quick action, hundreds of acres of straw has already been dropped along the Poudre River to mitigate potential runoff flows. Monson says because of that action, Greeley's water remains unpolluted.
“This winter we are doing a re-evaluation of the areas to make sure the mitigation in the spring will be targeted toward the most critical areas to stabilize.” Only half of the recommended mitigation has been completed and Monson says that could be a concern during snow runoff and spring rains.
Bassinger says the threat for Larimer County is the risk of flash flooding and mudslides. “All the vegetation’s gone so when the rainfall hits the ground it’s like hitting a parking lot." With little ground cover growth she says flows up to six times what was seen before the blaze could occur. “That puts potentially homes and infrastructure at risk of flood flows that we've never seen before, and we didn’t design for."
4th District Republican Congressman Cory Gardner along with four others from the Colorado delegation supported the addition of watershed funding in the hurricane Sandy relief bill. Gardner says there's still a chance it could be added when the Senate takes up the bill.
“It’s highly possible that you could see them do something and [then] it could come back here. We could still be pushing this here [in Washington] through a Senate measure if we can get that done.” Gardner says.
Both Bassinger and Monson say efforts to restore the watershed will continue with or without further federal funding.