After Decades Of Neglect, Fountain Creek Holds New Promise For Colorado Springs

Jul 28, 2020

When Richard Mulledy was growing up in Colorado Springs, there was no trail running along the city’s Fountain Creek. Who would have wanted to walk along the pollution-laden waterway? It was little more than an overgrown ditch for the region’s erratic and sometimes massive flash floods.

Decades later, a lot has changed.

In cities like Denver and Pueblo, urban waterways have become recreation resources. But in the Springs, Fountain Creek still struggles to shake its reputation as a contaminated dumping ground.

It’s the kind of place where people think, “if you catch a fish and it’s got three eyes looking at you — that kind of a reputation, yeah,” acknowledges Mulledy, who now manages the city’s stormwater department.

Memories of a ruptured sewer line that sent a torrent of raw sewage into the creek in the late 1990s still linger. The city is mired in a years-long ongoing lawsuit concerning pollution and creek sediment brought by a group of plaintiffs that includes the Environmental Protection Agency and multiple downstream counties.

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