Preparedness & Recovery

Boulder, Colo., Nearing End of 2013 Flood Annexation Program

The city is accused of having had a 'lack of nimbleness' with regard to annexation.

by Alex Burness, Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo. / June 13, 2017

(TNS) - Nearly four years after historic flooding caused widespread damage in Boulder, Colo., and across the Front Range, the city is finally on the verge of completing a flood-recovery program to bring at-risk households onto its water and wastewater systems.

On Thursday, the city Planning Board is expected to recommend advancing the final annexation related to the program, which has seen 30 — soon to be 31, in all likelihood — homes brought into Boulder.

The properties are peppered in various spots of the city, but the highest concentration by far is in east Boulder. Twenty-one of them are on Old Tale Road alone.

All of these properties were either enclaves surrounded by city land or adjacent to the city within a planning area referred to as Area II, which features plots intended for eventual annexation.

In the days and weeks immediately following the 2013 flood, Boulder started hearing from many of these property owners, as well as others in areas just outside the city limits and concerned for their respective water supplies.

For most of them, the flood had prompted failures or contaminations of septic and well systems — or both, in some cases.

Interactions with these desperate homeowners highlighted the fact that Boulder had what city planner Chris Meschuk referred to as a "lack of nimbleness" with regard to annexation.

So, for this program, the city devised a streamlining program involving heavy incentives: Boulder agreed to waive the $6,580-per-household annexation administration fee and to finance most of the costs associated with connecting involved homes to the city system.

The city's ability to complete this program is in large part attributable to a $1 million grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which helped cover work on the Old Tale Road properties.

Each of the annexations has been voluntary, with some 130 properties eligible for the program declining to join, for one reason or another.

The city, for its part, is celebrating the near completion of the program.

"Some of this is just the general principle that there's benefits to the overall public health and safety when you have people on the water and sanitary sewer system rather than having people on their own systems," said Edward Stafford, of Boulder Public Works.

Alex Burness: 303-473-1389, burnessa@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/alex_burness

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