Friends of the Rio de Flag

Promoting the Rio de Flag's natural stream system as a unique and valuable natural resource, an asset, and amenity to the City of Flagstaff and the surrounding community. The goal of FoRio is to protect, restore, clean up and improve the Rio de Flag and its tributaries to maximize their aesthetic, educational, recreational, and natural resource values, including the riparian habitats* they provide.

Drainage with direction for Flagstaff

Arizona Daily Sun • October 28, 2014 • By Emery Cowan

Malcolm Alter, the stormwater engineer for the city of Flagstaff, stands in front of one of the undersized culverts along the Rio de Flag that a new watershed flood model is likely to identify as in need of enlarging.  (Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun)
Malcolm Alter

Malcolm Alter stood on Cherry Avenue as it crosses over the Rio de Flag and held his hand up to his waist. That was how high water would reach above the culvert in the event of a 100-year flood.

City stormwater officials generally know how Flagstaff would be affected if a massive, 100-year flood spilled into the watershed that drains into the city's heart. But flooding impacts under other scenarios -- if a massive wildfire roared through the area or if drainage-altering development occurred upstream of town -- are hypotheticals the city has a hard time answering.

It’s a problem they’re hoping to solve thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The city will use the money to develop a set of hydrologic models that will allow it to predict what would happen to the Rio de Flag watershed under a range of scenarios.

That type of information will allow the city to do a better job of prioritizing stormwater infrastructure projects to minimize the risk of flood-related damage as well as find solutions to drainage problems that already exist. (read more...)

$90 million for what?

Arizona Daily Sun • March 31, 2013 • by Joe Ferguson

City Engineer James Duval
Project Manager James Duval stands in a section of the Rio de Flag between Cherry and Dale avenues. (Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun)

The redevelopment of much of Flagstaff's Southside depends not so much on what happens above ground but underneath it.

A series of massive, underground tunnels are planned to funnel millions of gallons of water from the Rio de Flag away from the city's oldest neighborhood in the event of a 100-year flood. Southside residents call the $92 million flood control project a godsend, even if completion is still decades away.

Some officials in Washington, D.C., however, have a different label, calling it "one of the most screwed-up projects in the country."

Some local leaders also are frustrated with the delays and cost overruns.

"Forty million dollars has been spent on a project originally estimated at $25 million, and we have little more than a $6 million dam with a crack in it," said Flagstaff City Councilmember Jeff Oravits. (read more...)

For a more recent perspective on the failure of the Army Corp of Engineers to make progress on the Rio de Flag flood control project, read Senator John McCain's May 22, 2014 statement on the Water Resources Reform and Redevelopment Act (WRRDA) Conference Agreement, H.R. 3080.

More news...

Where is the Rio de Flag anyway? Click here to see a 3D image of the Rio watershed.

*Riparian habitats are water-dependent ecosystems characterized by rich and diverse groups of plants and animals. A vanishingly rare community resource for Flagstaff, riparian ecosystems play a key role in reducing flood peaks, enhancing water quality and groundwater replenishment, as well as providing wildlife habitat, open space and recreational opportunities.

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