Snowmelt Runoff Overtops Mt. Elden Lookout Road

Snowmelt runoff from a record-setting winter flowed out of the City of Flagstaff’s Schultz Creek Sediment and Flood Mitigation Detention Basins Sunday afternoon and overtopped Mt. Elden Lookout Road just east of the “Y.”

The City is currently in the process of fine-tuning the capacity of the basin outlets to attenuate the flows and reduce the potential for further flows across Mt. Elden Lookout Road. Even with these adjustments, it is possible that rapid snowmelt may continue to strain the capacity of the basin system.

Coconino County Public Works Department has placed advisory signage in the area and is asking motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists to exercise caution when traveling through this area where water continues to flow.

“Melting snow continues to bring record amounts of runoff downstream to our communities this year,” said Christopher Tressler, County Engineer and Director of Public Works. “While public safety remains our first priority, we also are using this event as an opportunity to work with the City of Flagstaff to get this flood mitigation infrastructure calibrated and ready for the upcoming monsoon season.”

Designed and constructed in less than three months last fall, the three detention basins were built by City of Flagstaff contractors to mitigate flows from monsoon rains falling over the Schultz Creek watershed, which was severely burned during the Schultz/Pipeline Fire last summer. Monsoon events during the 2022 season subsequently caused several flooding incidents that impacted portions of Coconino Estates and other neighborhoods downstream.

The County also is in the process of securing National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) clearances from the U.S. Forest Service and 404 permitting with the Army Corps of Engineers for the Mount Elden Lookout Road Drainage Improvement Project, which will upgrade the road’s drainage capacity in this area. The design for the project is nearing completion and construction is slated to start later this spring with the goal of completing work before the 2023 monsoon season.

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