What is a watershed?
The Fountain Creek Watershed is located along the central front range of Colorado. It is a 927-square mile area of land and water that all drains to the Arkansas River at Pueblo, and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico. The watershed’s boundaries are defined by the shape of the land – Palmer Divide to the north, Pikes Peak to the west, and a minor divide 20 miles east of Colorado Springs.
The area is characterized by extremes in temperature and precipitation, large elevation changes, steep gradients, diverse ecosystems, and a multitude of water uses. Portions of El Paso, Teller and Pueblo Counties fall within the watershed, as do the eight municipalities of:
- Palmer Lake
- Woodland Park
- Manitou Springs
- Green Mountain Falls
- Colorado Springs
A watershed is a region that drains into a river, river system, or other body of water. John Wesley Powell, the 19th century geologist, and explorer described a watershed as: “that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community.”
In the Fountain Creek Watershed:
- Flooding and erosion have accelerated the loss of aquatic and wetland habitats, contributed to the loss of hundreds of acres of productive farmland, and caused the foundations of roads and homes to crumble.
- Creeks within the Fountain Creek Watershed contribute about 15% of the drinking water for Colorado Springs and are a source of irrigation for over 100 farms and ranches.
- 85% of Colorado Springs’ water is pumped from west of the Continental Divide, and after use, this water is treated and discharged into Fountain Creek.
- Over 90% of Pueblo’s 100-year floodplain is developed and includes residential, commercial, industrial and public properties.
- Parts of Pueblo’s downtown business district lie directly within the historic floodplain of Fountain Creek.
- Pueblo’s flooding history includes devastating floods in 1921, 1935 and 1965.