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Canal Importation Basin Flood History#

Flooding potential continues to be widespread in the Canal Importation Basin. This can be attributed to the significant loss of natural drainage channels from encroachment by historic development and uncontrolled spills of stormwater runoff from the major irrigation canals.

Across the basin, a 100-year storm event would result in approximately 161 structures being flooded with total damages estimated at $30.9 million. Significant flood damages have also occurred at smaller more frequent events.

Notable flood events observed in the Canal Importation Basin include the following:


In September, over four and a half inches of rain fell in 48 hours west of town causing widespread damage. The Evening Courier reported, “Although almost all ditches had to be shut off at the river to keep them from breaking their banks, drainage kept most of them full.”


In August, over six inches of rain fell in 27 hours with slightly more than one inch falling in 15 minutes. The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported, “Mr. Wilkinson said the New Mercer, Larimer County No. 2 and Arthur ditches west of Fort Collins did not have any breaks. However, ‘pick-ups’ from flash floods caused all of them to overflow, the water flooding the Colorado A&M college campus.”


During the morning of Aug. 13, the basin received nearly four inches of rain. The Coloradoan reported, “The hardest hit section apparently was near Avery Park where the fire department said they discovered one car floating and some people canoeing on Springfield Court.”


Two inches of rain fell in a little over an hour resulting in 25 houses reporting damages ranging from water in basements to main floor damage.


In late July, flooding caused significant damage throughout the Canal Importation Basin. Water flooded homes and businesses and trapped people in cars. Streets like Elizabeth and Lake became torrents of water rushing toward the CSU campus. CSU suffered $100 million in damages to buildings and property in the worst flooding ever seen in the area.


A storm in April caused some minor flooding damage to homes in the basin.


On May 22, a fast-moving storm cell brought heavy rain and large hail to the basin. The Coloradoan reported, “The storm hit Fort Collins just before 7 p.m. and brought hail up to 1 inch in diameter and heavy rain that caused flash flooding.” Multiple intersections were flooded in the basin and in other areas of the city. According to the Fort Collins Police department, multiple vehicles were stranded in floodwaters on Lake Street near the CSU campus.

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