PRESS RELEASE: Coconino County Flood Control District Briefs Federal Officials on Long-Term Flood Mitigation Plan

Coconino County Flood Control District hosted Congressman Tom O’Halleran and officials from the United States Department of Agriculture, United States Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Federal Highway Administration, and the City of Flagstaff for a comprehensive briefing and tour of the Schultz/Pipeline Flood Area.

Flood Control District officials presented the District’s long-term plan for flood mitigation, briefing Congressman O’Halleran and federal officials about the new situation communities now face after nine critical watersheds were severely damaged by the recent Pipeline Fire. Flood Control District Administrator Lucinda Andreani, along with engineering partners, also presented a thorough long-term plan for flood mitigation on the east and west side of the San Francisco Peaks.

The three-part plan first emphasizes on-forest watershed restoration to repair natural alluvial fans and enhance channels to reduce sediment and debris. Second, neighborhood mitigation efforts are planned that will build concrete channels and culvert improvements in the affected neighborhoods, engaging in new mitigation in three corridors, while expanding and stabilizing mitigation in three other corridors, adding to the flood mitigation work put in place after the Schultz Fire in 2010. Finally, the plan would enhance the culverts and drainage at US Highways 89 and 180 to address impacts to important economic, life safety transportation routes, and connectivity to Tribal Nations.

Federal officials and the Flood Control District also discussed the estimated total cost of the long-term plans and what sources of funding are available to the Flood Control District to bring relief to residents.

“We need further Emergency Watershed Protection Program funding along with other funding sources,” added Andreani, “Congressman O’Halleran and Senators Sinema and Kelly have been working on finding a funding vehicle for the very necessary on and off-forest mitigation efforts.”

Following the briefing, Congressman O’Halleran and other guests were then taken on a guided tour of the affected neighborhoods, experiencing a severe flash flood event first-hand.

“Today, I saw boulders and logs barreling down the mountain in fast flowing waters that cut off all exits from the Campbell neighborhood where I had joined county and federal officials to tour mitigation efforts,” said O’Halleran, “Families on the east and west side of the Peaks shouldn’t have to live in these conditions. Later, I toured homes and neighborhoods with affected residents; they need answers and more assistance. I’m bringing all of this back with me to Washington to get the funding and resources these families and businesses need.”

The Congressman added that the timeframe for requesting funding and presenting mitigation plans is also critical, stating that efforts made before the end of Congress’ current term would be most effective.