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By Bud Starker

As the mayor of Wheat Ridge, it was an honor to have been appointed by the governor to sit on the Board of Directors for the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District (UDFCD). The District was created by the Colorado legislature in 1969 to reduce the impacts of flooding to people and property. UDFCD focuses on more than 1,600 miles of major streams covering a 1,600-square-mile area that includes 60 percent of Colorado’s population, located in seven counties and 35 cities along the Front Range.

The UDFCD performs several important tasks in conjunction with local governments. They work with communities to develop watershed master plans. These studies are an important tool to help identify remedial stormwater quality and flood risk management projects for construction and to guide land development projects consistent with regional drainage and flood control needs.

The District monitors best management practices in stormwater quality management. They also work with local government to review local projects in or near the floodplain to see if they qualify for maintenance with the UDFCD.

The UDFCD also works with FEMA to update Flood Insurance Rate Maps and works with local government to provide early notifications of heavy rain and flood threats so citizens can be notified of pending dangers. The UDFCD provides funding, project management and technical expertise on a cost-sharing basis with local governments to construct drainage improvements and provides stream management services on approved projects.

Wheat Ridge has benefited in several ways from the services provided by the UDFCD. Work has been performed on Lena Gulch and Clear Creek to provide flood mitigation services. The city has worked diligently with the district in floodplain mapping and has been successful in removing a number of properties from the floodplain, saving local property owners premium dollars on flood insurance.

As new developments are designed and constructed in Wheat Ridge, such as Clear Creek Crossing, the district will continue to work with developers and city technical staff to create communities that respect the quality and safety of the waters that flow through our city.

In lieu of a regular board meeting this summer, directors took a bus tour of local facilities designed and constructed by the UDFCD. One was located at a light rail station adjacent to an area prone to flooding. When completed, the 100-year floodplain had been lowered by five feet, developing 172 acre-feet of flood storage detention; had restored and created aquatic habitat; and created a community park. Directors also toured the new riverside construction next to REI at the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, a project that increased public safety and had many benefits for a variety of users.

The district is funded by a mill levy set by the legislature at 1.0 mill, which has been eroded by the ratchet-down effects of TABOR to a current 0.56 mills, a 44 percent reduction. The board has elected to ask the voters this November to restore the mill levy, which will allow the district to retain the funding from the original 1.0 mill as was the original legislative intent.

Additional information on the district can be found www.udfcd.org.

Contact Mayor Bud Starker at bstarker@ci.wheatridge.co.us or 303-235-2800.