Work finished to ease flash floods and mud flows from Lake Christine Fire burn scar
Work designed to ease the risk of flash floods and debris flows in the midvalley until the Lake Christine Fire burn scar heals was completed Dec. 24 with a 4 percent cost overrun, according to Basalt Town Manager Ryan Mahoney.
Basalt and Eagle County received a $1.3 million grant from state and federal agencies to complete the work, which ranged from strategic placement of water bars to major earth moving to create catch basins. About 30 projects, from minor to major, were planned.
Mahoney told the Basalt Town Council Tuesday this week the final tab was $56,000 greater than the grant. The last project was the creation of two catch basins on state lands in the hills above the El Jebel Mobile Home Park, Mahoney said. That work cost more than what remained in the budget.
“At the end of the day, we would have done all of the work anyway because it will protect these structures,” Mahoney said. “Of $1.3 million, $56,000 is an overage but not a big one.”
Projects had to be outlined before Basalt and Eagle County could apply for a grant from the federal government through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. But after the work started, it became apparent during a flash flood on Aug. 4 that changes were necessary. A stalled rainstorm dumped about 2 inches of rain on the southern side of Basalt Mountain in about two hours, officials said. Water and mud inundated part of Basalt’s Hill District.
Mahoney said that resulted in a “creeping scope” of work needed. The Natural Resources Conservation Service agreed to additional work at the intersection of Pinyon and Juniper Drives as well as along roadways lower on the slope to prevent a repeat of the August flooding.
In addition, the work on two catch basins above El Jebel was added late in the process.
“Those ended up being pretty expensive,” Mahoney said. “We were pushing pretty hard to get them done. They had to bring in some pretty big equipment to get the dirt moved.”
The feds wouldn’t increase the size of the grant after it was realized more work was necessary. The federal government supplied about 75 percent of the $1.3 million budget. The state contributed 12.5 percent. Basalt and Eagle County provided 12.5 percent through in-kind work.
Mahoney said he plans to talk to Eagle County officials about splitting the $56,000 extra expense because the government was a partner in the work.
Mahoney also said the town public works staff plans to deal with what’s been dubbed Sopris Lake, where water from melting snow settles in a low spot on Sopris Drive. Some concrete blocks that were placed to prevent summer runoff from swamping a yard and residence will be adjusted to allow winter runoff to drain, he said.
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An axiom says the flood follows fire. The U.S. Forest Service and partners are working to determine potential problems in the 32,600-acre Grizzly Creek fire burn scar and steps to ease the risks this year in Glenwood Canyon.