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PO Box 1575, Mail Code 410
30 S. Nevada Ave, Suite 401
Colorado Springs, CO 80903
Phone: (719) 385-5918
Fax: (719) 385-5537
Email: cityengineering@sp. . .

City of Colorado Springs / City Engineering / Reference Materials / Groundwater Underdrains

Groundwater Underdrains


We have established this website link to provide information on a little known problem associated with home building in Colorado Springs.  The problem is shallow groundwater that presents itself around homes and under city streets.  This shallow groundwater is why basements are water proofed and why foundation drains and sump pumps are a requirement in today's building codes.

Generally speaking a typical home's foundation drain collects this groundwater and conveys it in a small pipe deep in the center of the street next to Colorado Springs Utilities sanitary sewer pipe.   Don't be alarmed, these two systems (sewer and ground) are completely separated.  The sewer ends up in a treatment plant to be treated and the groundwater ends up in the City's (cleanwater) storm water system.

Back to the problem; Groundwater underdrains have been installed in City streets for at least 30 years with an estimated 400 miles of existing pipe, and more pipe to be installed with new development.  It is rare that one of these pipes fail but occasionally they do and repairs are costly.

In 2006, there was an underdrain system failure in the northeast area of the City with the home builder taking responsibility for the repairs.  The home builder brought the issue to the Housing and Building Association (HBA) and a subcommittee of City and Utilities staff met to review the issue.  HBA representatives expressed interest in working toward a long-term solution to ownership and maintenance of underdrains.  In the spring of 2007, City and Utilities representatives began working with HBA in defining a solution that would establish the City as owner of the underdrain system located in public rights of way or public easements.

This is a work in progress.  The current proposal being developed says that Utilities will assist the City in implementation of the new direction, development of specifications and standards, installation inspections, mapping and record keeping.  The City also expects to "contract" with Utilities to conduct any necessary repairs to the mains.  The City will own the systems within public streets and drainage easements and coordinate warranty acceptance and repair activities.

Meetings to define necessary changes to the current underdrain design, approval, construction, inspection, record keeping, and maintenance practices have been underway for several months.

Ownership and oversight of the underdrain system is expected to be revenue neutral for both the City and Utilities.

Utilities is proposing an Underdrain Plan Review and Inspection Fee for new installations to recover the incremental cost of plan review, construction inspection, mapping and documentation.  The fee is projected to be $23 per residential lot, higher for non-residential.  This fee is proposed to be collected at the same time as the water tapping fee.

The City is proposing a Groundwater System Fee for new installations to build and maintain a reserve fund that will provide for future operation, corrective maintenance and inspection of the current and future underdrain systems within the City limits.  The fee is projected to be $60 per residential lot.  This fee is proposed to be collected upon issuance of a building permit.

For those interested in more information, please view the pdf files below  by clicking on the links.  Please note that all of these documents are in draft form. 


Feel free to contact:
Steve Kuehster, P.E.
Senior Civil Engineer at (719) 385-5412

To view a PowerPoint presentation on Groundwater Underdrains in Colorado Springs, click here.

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ter Underdrains Chapter 13

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Groundwater_System_Fee_Draft_May 30 2008.pdf

An estimate of repair costs and revenues required to support a proposed fee.

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Summary of recent groundwater underdrain issues. The most recent issues committee members are working to resolve.

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Underdrain Ord August 2009.doc

Groundwater underdrain draft code language.

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A draft of groundwater underdrain policy recommendations complied in 2007.