Flood victims seek fix to Leyden Creek culvert which they say is too small to handle heavy rainfall

Jeffco Commissioner calls basin a top priority

GOLDEN, Colo. - Homeowners who live alongside Leyden Creek, on West 75th Place, say the culvert under their street isn’t big enough to handle a heavy rainstorm.

They said they first noticed the problems last September, during the historic floods.

“It was terrifying,” said Lani Archer. “The water was up to my knees.”

She said she and her family had to evacuate as water filled their garage and the crawl space under their home.

Archer’s husband, Jay, told 7NEWS that the flood waters backed up behind the culvert and then flowed over the street and on to their property.

Jay Archer said there was so much force behind the water that it gouged out a channel in his front yard.

Initially, he thought it was just a one time, “100 year event,” but heavy rain Wednesday caused water to back up on the north side of the street once more.  It then flowed over the pavement and onto his property again.

“We had to grab the sandbags we had left over from last year,” he said.

There was frustration in his voice as he talked to 7NEWS about the culvert under the street.

“It’s obvious to everybody… that it’s basically a watermelon’s worth of water trying to squeeze through a drinking straw’s worth of capacity,” he said.

Archer said he contacted county road and bridge officials, who came out, cleaned debris out of the culvert and said nothing about any plans to replace the culvert.

“I hate to say it,” he said, “but the best thing that could happen is for this to wash out so someone is forced to act.”

“I sympathize with that property owner,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Don Rosier. “We need to fix the entire area.”

Rosier, who is a water resource engineer, told 7NEWS that a study is underway on the Leyden Creek Basin.

“We’ve elevated this to a number one priority,” he said. “We hope to have draft results in December and final results in January.”

Rosier said that once they get the results, the three entities involved -- Urban Flood Control and Drainage, the City of Arvada and Jefferson County -- will set about making improvements to the channel.

When asked what types of improvements, Rosier replied, “We’ll be looking bank to bank and will determine whether to make the creek channel hard surface or soft.  We’ll look at the flood plain, culverts and at possibly armoring the channel to make sure it doesn’t erode.”

The commissioner said if they can get the easements without any problem, they should be able to make improvements within a year or two.

He wouldn’t say whether the 75th Place culvert would be replaced, but did say there was a possibility that they could do some mitigation work at that location, so that when water does flow over the street, it goes directly into the creek channel on the other side and not onto private property.

The Archers said they were happy to learn that.

“No one was talking to us,” they said.

When asked how much it might cost and where the money will come from, Rosier said, “It’s a multi-million dollar project. Half would be paid by Urban Drainage and half by the municipalities.”

The commissioner said once the decision is made, “We would have to pull it from the General Fund and from Road and Bridge to get this done.

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