LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – It is a war to stop too much water in order to save the drinking water. A flash flood earlier this week turned a Cameron Peak Fire burn scar into a rock-filled mudslide.

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The slide took out six homes and caused at least one death. Three people remain unaccounted for.

“The event that we saw this week was a 100-year rain event so there was nothing we could do to stop it,” said Jan Petrzelka with Greeley Water.

Officials are focused on preventing future mudslides by hindering rainwater flow where vegetation was destroyed by the fire.

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“What we are doing is aerial mulching that drops mulch from helicopters covering the burn area and hopefully keeping the soil in place,” explained Adam Jokerst, Deputy Director of Greeley Water.

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The mulch is loaded onto massive nets then carried by the helicopter to the burn scar and dumped. The process is designed to reduce runoff.

The debris and sediment flowing into the Poudre River threatens water reserves in Greeley.

“It’s our most critical infrastructure,” said Jokerst. “When it burns, our water supplies are put into jeopardy, so that’s why we are trying to repair it through this mitigation.”

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The planning for this operation started when the Cameron Peak fire began. It’s expected to last years.


Rick Sallinger