When I received an email from Michael Chiaramonte on July 22, he sounded disgusted and desperate. Rainwater was washing away his landscaping, invading his house, and posing a threat to his family. He was still in the throes of cleaning up from the July 16 storm that caused thousands of dollars in damage to his home, so you can imagine his exasperation when he learned this problem wasn't new.
"We have documents going back to the '80s," he wrote, "that we think demonstrate the city's negligence."
I agreed to meet him that very day so he could show me what he was talking about. When I got there, I was completely unprepared for what I saw. A short hike up the hill from his home on Pope's Valley Drive, not far from the Sunbird Mountain Grill & Tavern, a pipe for rainwater runoff at a townhome complex four stories above had spilled water for decades, carving a gash in the hillside. A drain installed in the mid-1980s hadn't stemmed the flooding.
Colorado Springs' government has been trying to play catch-up on this particular drainage problem since the system was designed by a developer and approved by the city in 1981. But the flood waters are still coming. While city representatives now say they will fix the problem next year, Chiaramonte remains skeptical. And not a little bit on edge. Read why in our feature story, which begins here.