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AFTERMATH: County officials facilitate mitigation of monsoon damage

Las Piedras Wash was scoured by the runoff from monsoon rains, and the water threatened the main APS transmission line that provides power to the Village of Oak Creek. (Photo courtesy BPC)

Las Piedras Wash was scoured by the runoff from monsoon rains, and the water threatened the main APS transmission line that provides power to the Village of Oak Creek. (Photo courtesy BPC)

Back-to-back heavy monsoon seasons in 2021 and 2022 took a toll on the floodplain east of State Route 179 through the Las Piedras and Wild Horse Mesa neighborhoods, often referred to as the Jacks Canyon wash.

Powerful currents from the torrential rains scoured the typically dry channel, resulting in tons of soil and rock displacement, carving the streambed 4-6 feet deeper, and moving it perilously close to the main APS transmission line that provides power to the Village. In addition, a dozen or more sewage manholes, located in the channel, are now exposed to large boulders tumbling down the stream during flash floods.

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From left, Duane Thompson (VP, Big Park Council), Bert McLean (Treasurer, Las Piedras HOA), Val Wilson (resident, Wild Horse Mesa), Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Donna Michaels, Public Works Director Dan Cherry, Philip Cox (resident, Pine Valley). Also present were Director of County Flood Control Lynn Whitman, Dave Dirren (engineer, Sunrise Engineering), Brad Bowers (engineer, Environmental Biomass) and Camille Cox (President, Big Park Council).

After months of pleas to utility providers and government agencies by the Las Piedras Homeowners Association, Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Donna Michaels was contacted and readily agreed to facilitate a coordinated remediation plan between the involved parties. Sept. 20, Michaels convened a site tour and meeting with County Public Works Director Dan Cherry and County Flood Control Director Lynn Whitman to review the floodplain erosion and compromised infrastructure.

In attendance were engineers for the Big Park Domestic Wastewater Improvement District (BPDWID), Las Piedras HOA, Big Park Council and neighborhood representatives from Wild Horse Mesa and Pine Valley.

Next steps that were agreed upon by BPDWID involve “armoring” the exposed manholes to protect them from tumbling boulders and flood overflows. The construction schedule will be shared with the interested parties. APS representatives were invited but did not attend the meeting. They will be contacted to address the exposed and “listing” powerline poles.

Repairs to the wash itself, which is on Las Piedras HOA property, may not require a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, as the work involves stabilizing an existing stream bank, not redirecting the water flow. Two bridges spanning the wash, one on the Las Piedras property and another in Wild Horse Mesa, appeared to be undamaged except for a guardrail on the latter bridge.

Supervisor Michaels stated she was pleased to bring together county resources to provide insight and guidance, and to interface with utility providers to address the infrastructure concerns. Bert McLean expressed appreciation to the Big Park Council for helping open doors to facilitate this meeting.

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