Work Complete on Ute Pass Drainage Project
Flood Control System In Place to Protect School and County Infrastructure
The El Paso County Public Services Department put the finishing touches on the Ute Pass Elementary Drainage Project on Monday. The four-day project included the installation of 500 linear feet of a flood control system by TrapBag to prevent flood waters from flowing into the school and maintenance to the drainage area adjacent to Chipita Park Road.
During a July rain storm in the Waldo Canyon Fire burn area, flood waters came down Sand Gulch pushing debris, logs, and even a horse trailer, down the drainage area, or pour point. The flood pushed mud out of the drainage channel over Ute Pass Elementary’s playground and even into the building.
On Tuesday, Commissioner Sallie Clark, who represents the Ute Pass area, and County engineering staff, met onsite at Ute Pass Elementary with nearby residents to discuss flooding issues. “The TrapBag system is a partnership with School District 14 to protect public infrastructure from additional flooding damage,” said Clark. “In addition, neighbors learned how this system will channel future storm events and were provided the opportunity to exchange information and ideas about potential drainage improvements in the area to prevent further damage.”
The TrapBag flood control system is a line of trapezoidal shaped bags that stand four feet high on one side and slope to the ground on the other. Connected like an accordion, each bag (or cell) holds about 60 cubic feet of dirt or sand. The interconnected bags create a barrier that will hold back flood waters and mud slides.
“This is intended to be a temporary fix,” said Public Services Operations Manager Max Kirschbaum. “Water, more often and in great intensity, will come down Sand Gulch because of the damage in the Waldo Canyon Fire burn area.
The TrapBag system lines portions of both sides of the drainage channel from the culvert under U.S. Highway 24 to Chipita Park Road. El Paso work crews positioned and filled the bags to protect Ute Pass Elementary and to direct any flood water along the channel toward Fountain Creek. Crews also widened the channel and placed large rocks along the walls to prevent erosion.
“The TrapBag system will keep flood waters out of the school and improve the ability to handle flood waters by keeping the flow within the designated channel,” Kirschbaum said.
On August 2, the Board of Commissioners approved an emergency funding request from the Public Services Department for the purchase and installation of the TrapBag barriers to direct flood flows coming off the Waldo Canyon Fire burn scar away from a public school and critical county infrastructure in the Ute Pass area. Manitou Springs School District 14 agreed to pay for a portion of the materials, which Kirschbaum said totaled about $20,000.