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Torrential rain floods Bayfield homes, prompting demands for improved stormwater management

Town Board examining storm management plan
Justin Grimwood, who lives in the Clover Meadows subdivision, said his property was flooded during a rainstorm in late June. Grimwood said a much bigger retention pond is needed to prevent such floods. (Courtesy of Justin Grimwood)

When 3 inches of rain fell in Bayfield in 2½ hours on June 26, it quickly overwhelmed parts of the town’s stormwater system.

Much of that water ran off adjoining properties and into the Clover Meadows subdivision, as well as homes near Bayfield Primary School, flooding some of them with inches or feet of water.

At Tuesday night’s meeting of the Bayfield Town Board, residents said the town needs to improve its stormwater management system.

Justin Ross, who lives on South Mesa Avenue, said water from a nearby park overwhelmed a culvert that was supposed to divert water away, and it started flooding his father’s home.

“It turned into a river right toward my father’s house,” he said. Firefighters from the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District pumped water from some homes in the neighborhoods.

Justin Grimwood, who lives on Lupine Drive in Clover Meadows, said a joint maintenance facility operated by La Plata County, town of Bayfield and the Bayfield School District has a small catchment pond that isn’t large enough to handle the runoff from acres of paving on the property. His home was flooded with 18 inches of water.

“It was a torrential amount of rain,” he told town board trustees. “We need to be making sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Another resident whose home was flooded said a similar event happened eight years ago, before she bought the home.


In her report to the trustees, Town Manager Katie Sickles said town staff members have begun an inventory of the stormwater retention ponds in town to try to ascertain which ones belong to the town and which are operated by homeowners associations.

In 2014, the town looked at implementing a storm drainage plan, with a cost estimated at $200,000 to $1.2 million, she said.

Such an expense would require drastic reductions in other departments, she said.

“We can’t spend this kind of money, without hurting another fund,” Sickles said of the different funds that make up the town’s budget, primarily public works, parks and recreation, and the marshal’s office.

Bayfield town manager re-elected to board of Colorado municipal organization

Katie Sickles, town manager in Bayfield, has been re-elected to the executive board of the Colorado Municipal League, representing small municipalities in the state.

Melissa Youssef, a City Council member in Durango, was re-elected to the board to represent medium population municipalities.

“Not only do I look out for Bayfield’s interest in reviewing, discussing and supporting/opposing legislative issues, I also communicate with small towns across the state and make sure I am in tune with current affairs whether or not they are legislative,” Sickles said in a statement.

The league’s mission is: “Empowered cities and towns, united for a strong Colorado.”

Sickles was re-elected to her board position during the CML annual conference in Breckenridge on June 23.

– Durango Herald

“It’s frustrating this was identified eight years ago, and it wasn’t acted on,” said Mayor Ashleigh Tarkington.

Sickles said one funding mechanism used in other towns is a voter initiative to pay for a stormwater management fund. If approved by voters, each property in town would pay an assessment into the stormwater management fund.

Trustee Tom Au asked if part of the town’s sales tax that pays for street improvements could be used for stormwater projects.

Sickles said it could, but it would be at the expense of paving town roads and filling potholes.

Currently, the town collects 1% in sales tax, or about $500,000, to pay for street maintenance.

Trustees indicated they are interested in examining the inventory of local drainage systems, then deciding if they want to ask voters to fund stormwater projects.

Town staff members and trustees will start studying the town’s 2023 budget at a work session at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Bayfield Town Hall.

In other action:

  • Nicol Killian, the town’s community development director, said the town has received a grant to study the need for a pedestrian crossing on U.S. Highway 160 in Bayfield. Residents, particularly children, frequently cross the highway in a 45 mph zone to get from one side of town to another.
  • Sickles announced that Ryan Orendorff has been hired as the town’s new parks and recreation director, replacing Becky Eisenbraun.

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