At this week’s special session of the Flood Control District Board of Directors they approved acceptance of two new Federal grants that will enable the District to immediately proceed with the first phase of long-term flood mitigation projects.
The Schultz-Pipeline Flood Area is defined as the neighborhoods downstream of nine major watersheds damaged by the Schultz Wildfire in 2010 and the Pipeline Wildfire this past year. The District, along with several engineering partners, have determined that without extensive on-forest and neighborhood mitigation measures, the risk of life-threatening floods affecting our communities will only increase.
“The priority of local government is the health and safety of our citizens, and our citizens’ lives and homes were severely impacted this past monsoon season by the nine watersheds compromised by two major wildfires,” said Chair of the Board Patrice Horstman. “We want to thank Senators Kelly and Sinema and former Congressman Tom O’Halleran for their strong support with securing this unprecedented funding. Without it, the District and County would have likely had to cut other services to provide flood mitigation.”
The two funding sources include $42 million from the United States Forest Service, which allows the District to commence with on-forest watershed restoration projects. After the Pipeline Fire damaged the nine watersheds, the downstream water flows increased 10 to 26 times resulting a massive amount of sediment leaving the burn area and moving into the downstream neighborhoods. On-forest watershed restoration is the most critical piece of the District’s flood mitigation plans, as these measures help reduce the flow of dangerous sediment and other debris that is impacting downstream neighborhoods.
“The Coconino National Forest is thrilled to continue our amazing partnership with Coconino County and support the important work to manage the impacts from wildfire and flooding in and around our communities,” said Aaron Mayville, Forest Supervisor on the Coconino National Forest. “We’re all in this together and I look forward to seeing the great work this funding will make possible.”
The second funding mechanism is $9 million through an agreement with the Natural Resources Conservation Service as a part of their Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWPP) to begin neighborhood flood mitigation projects in the Wupatki Trails and Brandis Way flood corridors. These projects will focus on improvements to channels and box culverts that will better manage the increased flood waters within these neighborhoods. The neighborhood flood mitigation from the Schultz Fire era was overwhelmed by the increased water flows during 45 major flood events in June, July, and August of 2022.
The Emergency Watershed Protection Program, a federal emergency recovery program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, helps local communities recover after a natural disaster strikes. The program offers technical and financial assistance to help local communities relieve imminent threats to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms, and other natural disasters that impair a watershed.
“These grants are the product of great teamwork between the District and our partners and representatives in Washington D.C.,” added District 5 Supervisor Lena Fowler. “I’m so pleased that we have this good news about being able to address the impacts of both the wildfires and the flooding afterwards.”
For the status of the Flood Control District’s ongoing flood mitigation efforts, important information about proper water management on private property, and information about private flood insurance and FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, please visit: https://www.coconino.az.gov/2926/SchultzPipeline-Flood-Area