Flood Mitigation in Fort Collins

Spring Creek Improvements

Since 1989, over $5 million was spent on improvements to Spring Creek. These projects included acquisition and relocation of structures, channelization to remove pre-FIRM properties from the floodplain, storm drainage improvements, reinforcement of the Burlington-Northern Railroad embankment, and bridge improvements.

Approximately 86 structures were removed from the 100-year floodplain, including approximately 41 that were acquired by the City.

List of Acquired Structures

  • 30 mobile homes in the area that is now Creekside Park (adjacent to the devastated Johnson Mobile Home Park). These structures were in a very high hazard portion of the Spring Creek floodplain.
  • 9 residential homes
  • 1 retirement home that could have housed more than 15 people.  This would be considered a “critical facility” according to the revised 1995 City Code.
  • 1 business, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, located along College Avenue in the area that is now Creekside Park.

Possible Lives Saved Due to Acquisitions

  • Mobile Homes: Assuming two people for each mobile home. Total:  2 X 30 = 60 lives
  • Residential structures: Assuming two people for each home. Total:  2 X 9 = 18 lives
  • Retirement Home:  Capacity was 15 residents.  Total:  15 lives
  • Business: Assume there are three workers with two customers. Total: 2+3 =5 lives
  • Grand total is 98 lives saved.

Additional Mitigation Activities

The City of Fort Collins also is involved in many city-wide floodplain mitigation outreacy activities.

Outreach Activities

  • Residents in or near the floodplain receive floodplain brochures in the mail each year. These brochures discuss the local flood hazard, safety, property protection, flood insurance, etc. These were mailed in May of 1997.
  • Flood Awareness Week - In the spring of each year, City Council proclaims one week as “Flood Awareness Week.” Activities include newspaper articles and booths at City Hall and the public library with informational brochures. The 1997 Flood Awareness Week was held May 12-18.
  • A mailing is sent to all city residents in their utility bills with a flood-related article at least annually. The topic of the May 1997 mailer was Flood Safety.
  • FEMA’s “Best Build” video and a local floodplain video are telecast on the local Cable channel annually. These are shown in conjunction with Flood Awareness Week.
  • A mailing is done to the members of the Board of Realtors publicizing the map information services provided by the City (i.e. map determinations, elevation data).
  • In addition, the City offers training classes to local realtors on how to read Flood Insurance Maps because the realtors are required to determine if the property is in a floodplain before it is listed.
  • Flood safety section published in the yellow pages.
  • “City Line” phone system with flood safety and hazard information recordings.
  • Educational programs for schools.
  • Informational brochures are available at the Stormwater Utility Office.
  • The City provides flood assistance site visits to advise property owners of mitigation and property protection measures.
  • A flood resource collection was established at the public library.

Open Space

  • Of the approximately 2,823 acres of floodplain in the City of Ft. Collins (including both FEMA regulatory floodplains and locally designated floodplains), approximately 958 acres are preserved as Open Space. More open space is continually being acquired.
  • On Spring Creek, 313 acres are floodplain and 97 acres are open space. This includes several parks and a bike trail along the entire length of the stream.

Higher Regulatory Standards

  • Class 6 rating Community Rating System (CRS) October 1996, entered into CRS in 1990.
  • Administer floodplain regulations for all floodplains within the City to standards exceeding those of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) minimum requirements, including those not studied in detail by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). For example, hydrology standards are based on fully developed conditions instead of existing conditions, the floodway standard is more restrictive with a 0.5-foot rise instead of a 1.0-foot rise, and on one stream the floodplain is administered as the floodway.
  • Maintain higher regulatory standards for Freeboard, Cumulative Substantial Improvements, Lower Substantial Improvements Threshold, Protection of Critical Facilities.
  • Maintain Floodplain Use Permits, Floodproofing Certificates, and Elevation Certificates.

Land-use Planning

  • Conducts studies on channel stability and delineation of erosion buffer zones along certain channels. The purpose of these studies is to: 1) characterize the stability of the stream on the basis of evaluation of hydrologic, hydraulic, geomorphic, and sediment transport characteristics of the stream basin and develop practical improvements for mitigating adverse impacts on the streams; 2) develop design criteria and construction standards for improvements in drainageways with regard to reaching stability within the City of Fort Collins; and 3) establish erosion buffer zones to restrict development along the floodplain. This will help to mitigate the effects of flooding along unstable reaches of the stream.
  • Watershed Approach to address environmental impacts associated with urban runoff. This integrates water quality mitigation with water quality control in the City’s watersheds. Mitigation objectives include: preventing the introduction of environmental pollutants onto lands within the watershed; treating runoff contaminated by urban land uses in the tributary system; and protecting receiving waters’ riparian, wetland, and aquatic habitats from deterioration.

Advanced Planning

  • City Plan that establishes core community values, an overall vision, and broad planning goals to the year 2015. This plan addresses city structure, principles and policies, land-use code, as well as implementation procedures.
  • Develop and maintain Master Drainageway Plans for all streams within the Urban Growth Area. Each Plan specifies the regulatory flood elevation data as well as mitigation plans to address flooding problems.