New water project underway to prevent monsoon flooding at Flagstaff school

“Water is regulated through a 60-inch stormwater pipe, and it’ll go underground under the street,” Overton said.
Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 7:42 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 26, 2022 at 8:56 PM MST
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FLAGSTAFF, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Monsoon season is right around the corner, and the City of Flagstaff is working to prepare before a big storm. Last year floodwaters were so strong that they damaged an elementary school and parts of the area surrounding it. You may remember Flagstaff streets were flooded, and the Killip Elementary School had mud and water covering its floors in August. That storm closed down the school.

Scott Overton is the Public Works Director with the City of Flagstaff. Before the flood last year, he says there were already plans to renovate the school, but the damage accelerated that schedule. “If you were standing here last summer, late August, you would’ve been standing in about six to eight inches of water,” Overton said. “Historically, we know by July 1, that’s our date; if we’re going to have a good mitigation in place, we need to make sure it’s in place and ready for the storms.”

Now, a new project will bring in a set of water detention basins. The school is also being rebuilt a couple of feet higher in elevation. “Water is regulated through a 60-inch stormwater pipe, and it’ll go underground under the street,” Overton said. “It allows for a slower release into the existing stormwater infrastructure.” He says the basins will be able to hold more than three million gallons of water and are expected to drain within two days of filling.

“This regional detention basin sits right in the line of the Spruce Avenue Wash,” Overton said. He says rainfall came through the channel, or that wash, last year from the Museum Fire Burn scar. It eventually got so bad that it flooded out into a city park and then flooded Killip Elementary School. “The area we are standing in is a swing set. We should not be standing on a foot and a half of sediment,” he said.

The basins will also act as multi-purpose sports fields. “That will become a multi-purpose field--like a soccer field size,” Overton said. The project is set to be completed at the end of June, and students will be able to return to the new Killip Elementary School in August. Overton is hopeful this project will protect the entire community. “We certainly wish we weren’t trying to navigate what has truly been a natural disaster for this small community,” he said.