The 2013 Colorado Flood, was a natural disaster that left a devastating impact in 14 counties with flood waters that expanded over 200 miles. The negative impacts of this flood were far reaching and included devastating ecological setbacks. Directly after the flood, Colorado went to work to repair homes, roadways and other infrastructures that were devastated by the flood. During the efforts to repair and rebuild these infrastructures, little thought was given to stream habitat restoration, which resulted in a dramatic decrease in the populations of aquatic species. In order to mitigate and reverse the deleterious effects on Colorado’s streams, a massive stream restoration effort has been undertaken by newly created watershed coalitions.
EQR is currently working with the Little Thompson Watershed Coalition as part of their Watershed Resilience Implementation Project to mitigate streams impacted by the Colorado Front Range Floods. This project is a design and build and includes our partners HydroGeo Designs (Design Team), Eco Hydro (Design Team), Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (Re-vegetation), and WH Smith and Associates (UAV flights and surveys) to ensure the success of the flood recovery effort.
To understand why this project is so important to the improvement of stream life for Colorado’s Front Range, you should understand the effects that this flood had on the streams themselves. According to *James McCutchan Jr., Associate Director of the Center for Limnology at the University of Colorado at Boulder,” flood damage will be very different in high-gradient, montane zones versus the flatter plains…the addition, transport and deposition of significant amounts of sediment can also affect the metabolic processes that occur in a stream, including oxygen metabolism (photosynthesis and respiration) and other processes such as denitrification, which reduces nitrate and produces nitrogen gas.” A major concern of the flood damage includes algae, which is the base of the food chain in the Colorado ecosystem. Algae is the most important food source for many invertebrates and mobilization of the algae bed can cause high mortality of aquatic insects, trout and other fish native to Colorado’s streams.
EQR is currently in the design and permitting phase for the two sites that we have been awarded, with construction anticipated to begin next month. Our ultimate goal is to stabilize stream reach, protect infrastructure, and improve the habitat for aquatic species. EQR is proud to have the opportunity to work with Little Thompson Watershed Coalition and our other partners to positively impact the communities and ecosystems of Colorado.
To learn more about the effects of the 2013 Colorado floods here.