Storms cause sinkhole, flood parks

by Michael Mosher on July 17, 2012

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Due to weekend storms, public facilities have been temporarily closed in Yuma, including a major street and area public parks.

According to Joel Olea, director of field operations for the city of Yuma, a sinkhole was created from the heavy rainfall to the area on Friday. Airport Loop has been closed until further notice in both directions between Avenue A and County 14th Street.

The hole was reported to be developing adjacent to the northbound side of the street.

“Don’t count on the road being open at all, either direction, this week,” said Dave Nash, public affairs coordinator with the city of Yuma. “That doesn’t mean that’s all the time it’s going to take to fix it and that doesn’t mean necessarily that we’re going to have it fixed by then — we’re still in the assessment phase on that.”

Drivers should use Avenue B as a detour.

Both city and Yuma County personnel are working to fix the sinkhole and the road shoulder that was washed out.

The boat launch at West Wetlands Park, 2200 Water St., is closed as well as the beach and fishing areas at Gateway Park, 259 S. Gila St., due to high water levels from the Colorado River. Nearby ramadas and picnic shelters are still open.

“Visitors to the riverfront area are advised to use utmost caution, as river levels are high and currents varying to degrees not commonly seen,” city of Yuma officials stated.

In addition to the 1.66 inches of rain received Friday evening, water flowing from the Parker Dam to Yuma caused the Colorado River to rise higher than normal, said Ed Virden, chief of operations and maintenance for the Colorado River at the local Bureau of Reclamation office.

“When we release water for local water orders, that water is released from Parker Dam and the travel time is three days. Once that water is released, we can’t shut it off.”

He explained that the water supply increases but local farmers cut back on their water intake because of the rainfall. Basically, he said, it causes an increase in supply and a decrease in demand.

Virden said the normal rate of water flow through the city of Yuma is 400 cubic feet per second (cfs), but the flow through the area midday Sunday peaked at about 5,500 cfs.

As of 3 p.m. Monday, the water was flowing at about 4,100 cfs.

“We do expect that the river will be normalized approximately by Thursday at noon,” Virden stated. “The worst is over, levees are intact but we do have some localized bank lines washouts and some damage to levee roads. We have crews that are repairing levee roads in the area of Paradise Casino.”

Doug Hendrix, public affairs officer for the Bureau of Reclamation, said the levee system was built to hold up during these types of circumstances.

The problem, he said, is the limited amount of storage for excess amounts of water.

Virden added, “The storage enables us to capture those daily imbalances between supply and demand but when Mother Nature speaks up, too, the storage fills up very quickly.”

Nash said that renovations to Gateway and the West Wetland Park allowed the facilities to withstand these types of overflow situations. “So far it’s done everything it’s designed to do.”

Other areas of closure include 42nd Place and Jojoba Avenue and sections of Ocotillo Park.

The park located in the Ocotillo Subdivision has been closed until repairs and cleanup can be completed. The only portion of the park that will remain usable at this time is the grassy area for soccer.

“Park users should expect the roped-off portions of the park to remain closed until the coming weekend,” stated city officials. “Adjacent to that park, street lanes are narrow but otherwise no impediment to traffic at 42nd Place and Jojoba Avenue due to stormwater runoff.”

Full article…here

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