Stormwater Master Plan


Stormwater Master Plan Project

The Town of Estes Park's stormwater master plan will identify problem drainage areas and forge a path for the Town to complete future drainage improvement projects. This plan is a significant first step toward a safer and more sustainable Estes Park. It has been a critical need for Estes Park for many years, and this was never more evident than during the 2013 flood. Many of Estes Park's existing drainage channels, inlets, culverts and ponds were inadequate to convey the flows that resulted from that rainfall event. The Town suffered significant damage from which it is taking years to recover.


What does the plan provide?

A master plan for stormwater runoff will be a "future road map" providing guidance for future implementation of projects to control stormwater runoff and sediment from debris flow events, which may include detention and storage facilities, major drainage ways, inlets, culverts, storm sewer, and other items yet to be determined. The plan will investigate coordinating the use of open spaces, rights of ways, drainage tracts, and easements to recommend environmentally sound and resilient drainage hydraulic designs to address existing problems and/or areas where future challenges may occur. The plan will take into account the needs and planning for open spaces, transportation, water quality, water storage, floodplain mitigation, wildlife and other emerging urban and commercial considerations. In addition, the plan will provide specific recommendations regarding inadequate storm sewer and culvert systems and inadequate channels and swales.

Planning process

The Town currently does not have an adopted stormwater master plan, and the current philosophy on drainage has been to individually manage the runoff for water quality and get it to the river as quickly as possible. There has been a concerted effort by the Estes Valley Watershed Coalition, Larimer County, private residents and developers, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), and others to develop and bring resilient drainage plans to address the hydrology and hydraulics of all major drainage systems and to protect the residents and property in this area. A master plan is a key component to stormwater management.

The Plan will be a dynamic document that employs the latest techniques and will provide approaches to encourage continuous advances in best management practices when implementing projects and programs. This Plan will be designed to provide, to the extent possible, adaptable solutions to stormwater management that can respond with flexibility to changing conditions, while keeping environmentally sustainable principles in mind and using evidence-based and technologically sound principles. The Plan will directly enhance the existing Estes Valley Development Code regarding future developments by providing a more comprehensive, aerially extensive analysis of stormwater management.

The Estes Valley Development Code Boundary (Project Area) is approximately 33 square miles and encompasses the Upper Big Thompson River Basin. The Town of Estes Park is the only municipality within the Project Area.

This Plan will address runoff from existing and future development areas and shall provide a minor drainage system capable of handling at least the 10-year flows, and a major drainage system designed to convey a 100-year storm runoff event for road crossings on the primary drainage ways within the Project Area. It will provide recommendations for improvements to the existing drainage ways to accommodate both existing and future conditions. The Plan will also include an evaluation of those portions of the Estes Valley within the proposed Project Area, and make recommendations for necessary drainage facilities to correct existing deficiencies, and serve as a guide for private and public improvements in the future.

Who is funding the plan?

To develop this plan, the Town required funding to hire a consultant with expertise in stormwater management plans. The Town applied for, and received, a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery through the Department of Local Affairs. Subsequent to receiving the grant award, Public Works was able to advance with a Stormwater Utility analysis project that had $30,000 allocated from its General Fund Engineering Budget. The Town approved a contract with Anderson Consulting Engineers to complete the Stormwater Master Plan project.

The Town does not currently have any stormwater development impact or maintenance fees in place to collect funds needed for capital improvements or storm drainage maintenance. A plan is urgently needed to quantify the magnitude of the stormwater drainage problems, identify needed improvements and costs, and propose an implementation schedule. Options to fund the needed work will also be explored, including a feasibility study on implementation of a Stormwater Utility.


Stormwater Master Plan History

2019 Updates

Update 05.22.2019

The Estes Park Town Board and Larimer County Board of Commissioners met during a joint meeting on May 15 to discuss the proposed Estes Valley Stormwater Management Program and the associated utility. Town Public Works Director Greg Muhonen presented results from the public outreach effort and also displayed the draft floodplain map under consideration by FEMA. The meeting included time for public comment resulting in nine individuals expressing both support for and opposition to this program.

Following public comment, the two boards discussed this proposed program with emphasis on the anticipated floodplain map and associated flood insurance, hydrology study, and a potential grant to fund three essential projects identified in the draft Stormwater Master Plan. The application is due July 15. If awarded, funds would support widening the Big Thompson River channel between the US Hwy 36 Bridge to the Riverside Bridge and a multi-use path along the south river bank. Water recreational opportunities could be explored. It also includes replacement of the Riverside Bridge and the Rockwell Bridge.

The Boards decided to postpone implementing any stormwater user fees until three preliminary steps are completed. First, they expressed interest in completing the grant project and then conducting a Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) to assess how much this work would reduce the floodplain for the adjacent portions of downtown Estes Park. The Count Commissioners offered a letter of support for the Town\'s application.

Second, concerns were expressed about the result of the 2016 hydrology study. The Town Board asked staff to bring this topic back for further discussion at a study session. This is tentatively scheduled for June 11, 2019.

Third, they indicated sales tax could be considered in the future and possibly in 2024 when the current 1A sales tax sunsets. The County Commissioners deferred to the Town Board. Additional evaluation and discussion will be needed on this item.

Update 04.30.2019

Following are the results of the two public outreach efforts implemented for the proposed Stormwater Utility. Thanks go out to our property owners for taking the time to share individual preferences on this important topic. Attached below are links to five documents. The first two reported the results from approximately 200 responses to Questionnaire #1 in June/July 2018. Social media, outreach meetings, and press releases were used to invite participation in the questionnaire. The remaining three documents summarize the 900 responses to the March/April Questionnaire #2. The outreach efforts included social media, individual meetings, press releases, and over 8,500 direct mailed invitations to participate. There are thousands of very diverse comments to review. Excerpts can be extracted to support the full spectrum of options for this program. In an effort to provide a short overview of the results of Questionnaire #2, these are the observations of the majority sentiments shared by responding property owners:

63% agree stormwater drainage problems exist. 70% agree the Town and County should act to address flooding risk. 52% indicate a user fee of some amount should be part of the program funding solution. Of those, 48% feel the user fees should be zero or less than 5% of the program costs. 71% suggest a sales tax should be used to fund 40% to 100% of the program costs. 53% feel grants should pick up more than 20% of the program cost. Of those, 95% feel grants should provide more than 5% of the program revenue. [Note: additional local match funds (typically 20%-50%)are required in order to receive grant funding] 71% feel the proposed stormwater management fees are too high. 71% favor funding some type of stormwater utility. Of those, 30% say get started now and 29% say to take a different approach (most prefer we not move forward).

Public Works staff from the Town and the County will meet with the Town Board of Trustees and Board of County Commissioners at a joint meeting May 15 to hear public comments and decide if further action (creation of stormwater ordinance and an Intergovernmental Agreement) should be taken. The creation of a stormwater utility and implementation of any user fees or sales tax will NOT occur at this meeting. Additional future meetings and decisions are required to accomplish these actions.

Data Summary Thru July 2018

Stormwater Questionnaire #1 Comments

Stormwater Questionnaire #2 Comments

Stormwater Questionnaire #2 Data Results

Stormwater Questionnaire #2 Communication Log


2018 Updates

Update 11.05.2018

The Town of Estes Park and Larimer County contracted with a consultant to more accurately calculate potential user fees for the Stormwater Management Project. The data was received and the Town's and County's Public Works staff continue to analyze the data to provide information to property owners of 7,280 parcels. Staff presented information to the Board of County Commissioners (Oct. 22) and the Estes Park Town Board (Oct. 23) and both Boards were supportive of staff presenting estimated user fees based on impervious areas.

For public outreach, the Town will be distributing a letter to property owners that includes their estimated fees and requesting feedback through an online questionnaire. Staff hope to have this information distributed before the end of 2018.

Following the distribution of the letter and online questionnaire, the Town will compile feedback and present to the Town Board and County Commissioners to discuss whether or not to proceed with this project.

Update 07.26.2018

In response to Town Board feedback received in February, staff began an outreach effort to gather feedback from the community regarding the Stormwater Management Project (SMP) proposal. As background, the stormwater management proposal the Town is asking the community to provide feedback on is the need for a stormwater management program and the potential establishment of a utility that would responsible for implementing projects to reduce flood risk across the Estes Valley (development code area), in both commercial and residential areas. The Town has requested, and will continue to request, community feedback on this proposal as well as funding mechanisms such as fees based on impervious surface areas of properties in the proposed utility area, grants and/or sales tax revenues.

The outreach effort has been multifaceted, including a series of press releases, posting a number of informational documents on the Town's website for public viewing, meeting with certain property owners along Fall River and Big Thompson River in and near downtown, presentations to four civic and business groups, messages on utility bills, a mailed newsletter, three public meetings, visiting with the community at three Farmers Market events, holding several one-on-one meetings with individuals with a keen interest in the proposal, and conducting an online survey for the community which resulted in 221 responses.

Through all these efforts, the Town gained valuable insight into local residents' and businesses' perspectives on this issue. One of the primary concerns raised by community members was their need for a closer estimate of specific potential user fees their properties, versus the estimated range provided to-date. In order to fulfill this need, the Town and County are considering proposals from consultants to compile impervious area measurements taken from aerial photography this summer, with a tentative return of the data in the early fall.

When the data is available, staff will be able to more accurately calculate potential user fees. Staff anticipate sending a direct mailing to the owners of the 7,280 properties in the proposed utility area that highlights the key features of the proposed stormwater utility and delivers to property owners the user fee (or closer estimate) proposed for their specific property. Property owners will be invited to give the Town feedback on whether or not they support the concept of the utility, the proposed funding/user fee, as well as to give input and ideas for modifications and refinements to improve the stormwater utility proposal. Staff hope to generate more feedback through this mailing to assist elected officials in determining the next steps for the proposal.

Update 06.06.2018

The Town of Estes Park invites Estes Valley residents and property owners to attend one of three public meetings to learn about a proposed Stormwater Management Project and the associated proposed new utility user fees. The proposed utility fees are to be charged to every property owner in the Estes Valley. Proposed fee amounts will range from seven dollars to over $100 per month depending on impervious area. Each meeting will provide information on the draft Stormwater Master Plan and the proposed Stormwater Utility. The information is pertinent to both Town residents and residents of unincorporated Larimer County within the Estes Valley Development Code area. The meetings will take place:

Thursday, June 7 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Town Board Room of Town Hall, 170 MacGregor Ave. Friday, June 8 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Estes Valley Community Center (lower level), 660 Community Dr. - Please enter through Senior Services on lower level Sunday, June 10 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Estes Park Museum, 220 4th St.

Update May 21, 2018

The Town of Estes Park is proposing a Stormwater Management Project based on the recently completed Stormwater Master Plan and Feasibility Study. Conceptual maps of the proposed project were developed for cost estimates only and will change during the individual project design process. The Master Plan Executive Summary and an Estes Valley Stormwater Management Comparison Map have also been separately made available for quick reference.

The Town will be holding three public meetings to help citizens learn about the proposal. Each meeting will provide information on the draft Stormwater Master Plan and a proposed Stormwater Utility. The information is pertinent to both Town residents and residents of unincorporated Larimer County within the Estes Valley Development Code area. The meetings will take place:

Thursday, June 7, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Town Board Room of Town Hall, 170 MacGregor Avenue; Friday, June 8, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Community Room of the Estes Valley Community Center, 660 Community Drive; and Sunday, June 10, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Meeting Room of the Estes Park Museum, 220 4th Street.

Update 05.03.2018

The Town has started a public outreach process for Stormwater Management, including the recently completed stormwater master plan.

This overview presentation was given to the Board of Realtors on May 3, 2018. Public outreach meetings are tentatively scheduled for June. Project updates will be posted to this page.

These public outreach meetings on the Stormwater management Project follow the introduction of the new preliminary floodplain maps provided by the Colorado Hazard Mapping Program (CHAMP) and the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) held May 30. The Stormwater Management Project public meetings upcoming will include brief presentations on the Master Plan for the Estes Valley Development Code Area, and a proposed Stormwater utility followed by small group breakout discussions for participants to ask specific questions and learn more about the challenges in our community with stormwater runoff, possible solutions and proposed stormwater utility fees. Public feedback is critical to the future of these improvements.

Update 04.13.2018

The final Stormwater Master Plan has been received. Associated appendices and Feasibility Study will be released at the time of public outreach. Please continue to visit this webpage for updates on this project or contact Public Works at publicworks@estes.org.


2017 Updates

Update 06.20.2017

The Town of Estes Park held a public meeting May 11 to provide a forum for community members to weigh in on the developing stormwater master plan. The plan, currently in early development, will identify problem drainage areas and lay out a path for the Town to complete future drainage improvement projects. Anderson Consulting Engineers provided an overview presentation at the meeting and were then available to discuss areas of drainage concerns presented on maps of the Estes Valley watersheds.

These public outreach meetings follow the introduction of the new draft floodplain maps provided by the Colorado Hazard Mapping Program (CHAMP) at the public meeting with the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) scheduled on May 30 at 5 p.m. at the Estes Valley Community Center. Public feedback at this meeting is critical to the future of stormwater improvements.Please continue to visit this webpage for updates on this project or contact Public Works at publicworks@estes.org.




Estes Valley Stormwater Management Utility Resources

Stormwater Frequently Asked Questions

Proposed Stormwater Fee Spreadsheet- Includes $28 million in grant funding(to search for your information, please use \'Ctrl + F\' and enter your search criteria)

Proposed Stormwater Fee Spreadsheet- Does not include$28 million in grants (to search for your information, please use \'Ctrl + F\' and enter your search criteria)

Stormwater Management Program Overview Letter

Joint Town Board & Larimer County Commissioners Study Session - February 19, 2019

Presentation Material for Joint Study Session - February 19, 2019