Steamboat Springs Fire Chief assesses flood risk

Ron Lindroth: Streams through town more worrying than Yampa


— Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Ron Lindroth and Street Superintendent Doug Marsh discussed the city’s flood risk Tuesday night, citing the potential for “a perfect storm” if warm weather melts snowpack quickly and accelerates flows in area creeks and streams.

“For our community, my biggest concern is not necessarily the Yampa River, but the streams that flow through town,” Lindroth told the Steamboat Springs City Council.

Lindroth said the city’s utilities department is closely monitoring culverts, streams and creeks for blockages, which could build up significant water that could cause flash flooding if released suddenly.

“There’s a potential for flooding risk that is greater than what we’ve had in recent history,” Lindroth said Wednesday.

Along the Yampa River, Lindroth said, facilities including Routt County Communications, Ferrellgas, Yampa Valley Electric Association, the downtown fire station and the city’s wastewater treatment plant all are within a potential floodplain.

Lindroth said he also is preparing for the possibility of people getting swept up in a flash flood.

“The Fire Department is doing swift-water rescue training as we speak,” he said.

Marsh said property owners in need of sandbags can call the city’s street office at 970-879-1807 during business hours. After 4 p.m., he said, the city dispatch line at 970-879-1144 will take calls and notify city staff of requests.

“We have 13,000 sandbags, and the largest amount of sandbags we’ve ever used was 7,000,” Marsh said. “So far this year, we’ve used 900.”

He said another 5,000 or so sandbags are available in Gypsum, should the need arise.

Sandbags are free for residents, except those who have had flood problems in the past and failed to mitigate them. Those residents will be charged, Steamboat Springs Police Chief JD Hays wrote in an April 20 email.

Commercial users are charged after 100 bags. The cost of 50 cents per bag includes sand. The city will deliver the bags and sand, but the user must fill and place the bags.


Randy Kelley 5 years, 11 months ago

i'm in Riverside and concerned. Where would I place sand bags?


Steve Lewis 5 years, 11 months ago

Randy, In effect you would create a new "topographic" line, or dike, with the bags. Riverside is flat enough that you should consider using a leveling instrument to create the efficient/effective height throughout the bag line.

Inside the bags you would have a sump pump or two to handle what leakage occurs. You probably already have a sump within your foundation. Joining with neighbors would be more effective than individual efforts, both in bags needed and pump capacity. A generator backup, from your contractor pal, would be wise.

As a neighborhood, part of the peak in your area will be influenced by the downstream and upstream land elevations. Is there a dip you could plug above Riverside, or at the ditches near the river, and is there opportunity to improve the downstream flow out of Riverside. You’d need a good level to assess these.


Steve Lewis 5 years, 11 months ago

Also, it would be good to know the elevation of your foundation wall top. Ask your newest built neighbor, as those within the 100 year floodplain likely have it in their permit info. Compare yours to theirs with a level.


Bill Dalzell 5 years, 10 months ago

Kind of classic that no one answers the phone 879 1807 and 879 1144 has no idea what you are talking about, or why you would call them.


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