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Orchard City told new flood rules are needed

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Orchard City's town government has been advised by a state water official that it has to revise a 2010 ordinance dealing with construction in floodplains, but town officials have questions.

Orchard City Trustees wondered whether other municipalities in the area had received the same instructions on changing their local floodplain ordinances.

At the regular Aug. 5 trustee work session, town staff reported that failure to make the suggested revisions could have a number of consequences. Those could including refusal by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to offer assistance in the event of an emergency in the town; cancellation of current federal flood insurance policies; moratorium on federal loan guarantees for projects in or involving the town; and inability of residents to obtain new flood insurance policies.

The required changes to the town's ordinance came about from a flood plain and flood insurance public forum hosted by the Colorado Water Conservation Board at Orchard City on June 11. A CWCB official attending the event made the recommendations to the town, staff reported.

Uppermost in some trustees' minds was the famous 1937 failure of the 55-foot-high Fruitgrowers dam, a catastrophe that inundated Austin.

But trustees found themselves in a catch-22 situation with suggested changes in the ordinance that appear to require the town exercise jurisdiction over "alterations of watercourses" within its boundaries.

Not wanting to overstep the town's jurisdiction, town officials are going to be having discussions with other water users in the area to get their feedback on some of the changes proposed by state officials. Those "alteration of watercourse" changes include provisions dealing with the following matters:

• Sediment transport, erosion deposition and channel migration;

• Flow diversion projects that must take into consideration the residual 100-year floodplain;

• Stream alteration activity to be evaluated as to impact on regulatory floodplain and to comply with government regulations;

• All stream alteration activity be approved by a registered professional engineer or hydrologist;

• Stream alteration activities within a regulatory flood way be pre-analyzed in an engineer's or hydrologist's report; and

• Certain maintenance standards are required.

It was determined that before any official action was to be taken on the revisions the mayor or other trustees would consult with representatives of local irrigators on the draft ordinance that the town has been provided with.

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Surface Creek
Orchard City, water
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