Flood Recovery: Frequently Asked Questions
From Sept. 11 through Sept. 15, 2013, the City of Boulder experienced substantial flooding that will have lasting effects on our community. As a result of the flooding, Boulder County has been designated a Federal Disaster Area.
This information is updated regularly as new questions emerge and additional information is available.
Water Seeping into Basements
The level of groundwater (the depth below ground where the soil is saturated, also called the water table) varies throughout Boulder and some areas have a higher water table than others. Following the rainfall that occurred between Sept. 11 and 15, 2013, groundwater levels are higher than usual and are expected to remain high for a while.
Due to high groundwater levels, some property owners may continue to experience water seeping into their basements, and those homes and buildings that have sump pumps may notice that they are running more than usual. Private property owners should address these issues themselves by working with experienced professionals to repair damages or prevent further seepage into their buildings and by coordinating with their insurance companies to see if they are covered for damages that may have occurred.
If you experience new instances of clearish water seeping into your building (that isn't a continuation of issues that began during the September 2013 flood), first check the Water Distribution Information Center Interactive Map for real-time information about known water main breaks near you. If you can see the source of the water and it's bubbling or spraying up from under the ground or roadway, call 303-413-7100 from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, or 303-441-3249 after-hours, to report a water main (pipe) break.
Water Being Pumped or Diverted from One Private Property onto Another
The City of Boulder does not regulate the discharge or diversion of water from one private property onto another private property. If you believe you have suffered damages or other impacts to your private property due to the activities of neighboring property owners diverting or discharging water, you may wish to consult with a private attorney to explore your legal rights. The city cannot provide legal advice to people who believe they have suffered damages due to an adjacent or nearby property owner diverting water onto a neighbor's property.
If any fence, wall or berm was (or is) being constructed to divert drainage without a building permit, contact the city's Planning and Development Services Center at email@example.com to alert an inspector of the possible violation.
Water Being Pumped or Diverted from Private Property onto Public Property like Sidewalks, Streets or Gutters
The City of Boulder regulates the discharge or diversion of water onto public property under the Boulder Revised Code Chapter 8-2-8: Discharging Water Prohibited. Typically, property owners that are using a sump pump to discharge groundwater onto any sidewalk, street, alley, or other public right-of-way are in violation of city code and subject to fines.
City of Boulder residents may take flood debris to the Western Disposal transfer station, located at 5880 Butte Mill Rd. This station is open Monday through Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Do I need to take any special precautions when removing flood debris?
Yes, flood debris can contain any number of contaminants that accumulated upstream. Special precaution should be taken in the handling of flood debris. Visit the Center for Disease Control website for tips.
Dirt, Sand and Silt
- Most soils deposited by the flood can be left on the property; however, if the soils may be contaminated, follow the guidance on the Boulder County Sewage Backups page.
- Avoid direct contact with soils by wearing protective clothing, boots, and gloves.
- Do not sweep, dump, or wash soils into the city storm water catch basins. This will clog catch basins for neighbors downstream and require city maintenance crews to remove the debris.
- Do not pile soils in a manner that blocks gutters, sidewalks or fire hydrants, creating a potential hazard and blocking drainage.
- Take flood-related sandbags and other contaminated debris to the landfill.
- View a list of Licensed Waste Haulers in Boulder County.
By state law, electronics such as computers, monitors and televisions cannot be disposed of in landfills. Electronics can be recycled at various locations in Boulder County.
- Eco-Cycle's Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) drop-off site at 5030 Pearl St.
- Western Disposal transfer station at 5880 Butte Mill Rd.
- Refrigerators, freezers, air-conditioners, and other appliances that require Freon removal should be taken to facilities that accept them for special handling, including Western Disposal Services and CHaRM.
- Appliances without Freon, such as washers, dryers and water heaters should be recycled as scrap metal at Western Disposal or CHaRM.
Household hazardous waste, such as motor oil, car batteries, paint, pesticides, and chemicals, must be taken to the Hazardous Materials Management Facility at 1901 63rd St., located behind the Boulder County Recycling Facility.
I called a company to deliver a dumpster to my house, can they place it in the street?
The City Manager passed an emergency rule allowing trash receptacles to be placed in the public right of way without a permit, for the purposes of flood clean-up. Ensure that the receptacle is placed as close to the curb as possible; does not impede traffic flow or emergency response; and does not block drainage, driveways, sidewalks and fire hydrants.
There is more work cleaning up than I can manage. Who can I call to help?
There are several City of Boulder licensed contractors listed on the city's Hiring a Contractor page who are able to perform the work. There are also several local restoration companies available to assist with cleanup. Depending on the extent of the damage, you may best be served by a restoration company. Be sure to check references before hiring a contractor.
Should I remove my carpet or just try to dry it out?
If your carpet has been saturated with water or contaminated by sewage, it will need to be removed (along with the carpet pad). Due to the absorbent nature of these materials, they will not dry out completely and could harvest mold spores and bacteria.
Do I need to remove and replace water-damaged drywall?
Yes, water-damaged drywall can harvest mold and bacteria, since it loses its integrity and becomes brittle when it eventually dries out. If the water-damaged wall has insulation in the wall cavities, this will also need to be replaced to avoid contamination with mold and other bacteria. This may be an issue even if you had only a couple inches of water on the floor and it seemed to only affect your baseboards. The best way to check is to remove part of your baseboard to carefully inspect the drywall.
My walls got wet. Does that mean my wiring may be damaged? How can I tell? Is it safe to turn my electricity back on?
If your walls were wet, it is highly likely your electrical outlets may have been damaged. Please consult with a licensed electrician to determine if there is damage needing repair. The electrical system should be evaluated prior to restoring electricity to the affected areas in your home. City of Boulder building inspectors are available to aid in this inspection process.
Should I replace or recondition electrical items?
- Some items may be reconditioned, while others will need to be completely replaced for your protection.
- It is recommended that you allow an electrician or electrical inspector to guide the restoration or replacement of any electrical wiring or equipment.
Corrosion and insulation damage can occur when water and silt get inside electrical devices and products. Water can also damage the motors in electrical appliances. Therefore, you may need to replace:
- circuit breakers and fuses;
- all electrical wiring systems;
- light switches, thermostats, outlets, light fixtures, electric heaters and ceiling fans;
- washing machines, dryers, furnaces, heat pumps, freezers, refrigerators, dehumidifiers, vacuums, power tools, exercise equipment, and similar appliances; and
- electronic equipment, including computers and home entertainment systems.
- Visit the Longmont OEM Electric Safety After a Flood page for more information.
What can I do about mold and mildew?
Neither state law or local codes require landlords to remediate mold. Tenants may negotiate with their landlord regarding a mold mitigation plan, and if the property is within the Boulder city limits, explore the possible of mediation with the City’s Community Mediation Service at 303-441-4364.
Mold and mildew develop within 24 to 48 hours if your home is exposed to water damage due to:
- sewage backups from flooding in the area;
- plumbing or roof leaks;
- damp basement or crawl space; or
- overflows from sinks or bathtub.
- Mold will continue to grow until steps are taken to eliminate the source of moisture and effectively deal with the mold problem.
- The first step is to remove the damp elements from your house: carpeting, carpet padding, furniture, damp boxes, and anything that became wet and damp from the flooding.
- There are also home test kits to test for mold and mildew available at hardware stores; however, those can take up to 48 hours for results.
- If the area impacted is greater than 100 square feet, you will need to hire a professional contractor.
- There are several flood restoration companies who specialize in mold and mildew mitigation that can help you follow the proper steps to recovery.
- Viewing a list of licensed contractors on the city's Hiring a Contractor page.
- Landlords, property owners and tenants can view a short video with answers to questions about mold.
My water heater and/or furnace were submerged or sustained damage. Can I just dry them out and restart or do I need to have them serviced or replaced?
If your appliance was submerged in water or even exposed to water during the flood, you should have your appliance serviced by a professional. There are several components in the appliance that may have sustained damage. Without proper servicing, use of the appliance could cause a serious health and safety concern.
I need temporary storage and am planning to have a storage pod delivered. May they place it in the street?
Storage pods are not allowed to be placed in the public right-of-way. Storage pods must be placed on private property, within building setbacks. The city has only waived permitting for roll-off trash receptacles, which may be placed in the public right-of-way for flood debris removal.
I have a historic home that was damaged. Are there any special services available or things I need to know?
If your house is individually landmarked or located within a historic district, a Landmark Alteration Certificate (LAC) is required for any exterior work, including repairs. Landmark approvals are processed concurrent with any required building permits. Please contact Historic Preservation Planner Marcy Cameron at 303-441-3209.
I may have an older structure that likely has asbestos. Are there special precautions I need to take, or special permits required?
If asbestos-containing material is known to be present in flood debris in amounts greater than regulatory trigger levels, they must be removed in accordance with Colorado Air Quality Control Commission Regulation NO. 8 Part B. Trigger levels for single-family residential dwellings are 50 linear feet on pipes, 32 square feet on other surfaces, or the volume equivalent of a 55-gallon drum. If this is unknown, the material may be handled as non-asbestos flood debris and disposed of at a permitted landfill. A state-issued demolition permit is not required to remove debris from a building that has been partially or completely destroyed. However, the debris must be thoroughly wetted prior to handling to minimize asbestos dust.
Xcel Energy Bonus Rebates for Colorado Flood-Affected Customers
Xcel Energy Flood Rebates are available to home and business owners to replace flood-damaged equipment, such as furnaces, boilers, water heaters, air conditioners and evaporative coolers. In some cases, this will more than double Xcel’s existing rebates. Rebates are retro-active to Sept. 12 for qualifying equipment.
EnergySmart - Your Efficiency Solutions
EnergySmart is available to help residents and businesses in all Boulder County communities submit rebate applications, select energy efficient equipment, and find qualified contractors. Sign up today at www.energysmartyes.com or call 303-544-1000 for homes or 303-441-1300 for businesses.
*THE CITY OF BOULDER STRIVES TO PROVIDE THE PUBLIC WITH ACCURATE AND USEFUL INFORMATION. WITH THIS GOOD FAITH EFFORT, THE CITY MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, REGARDING THE ACCURACY, COMPLETENESS, RELIABILITY, OR SUITABILITY OF THIS INFORMATION. FURTHERMORE, THE CITY DISCLAIMS ANY LIABILITY ASSOCIATED WITH THE USE OR MISUSE OF THIS INFORMATION. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL THE CITY BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES OR LIABILITY, WHETHER DIRECT, INDIRECT OR CONSEQUENTIAL, OR OTHERWISE WHICH ARISES OR MAY ARISE FROM THE DIRECT AND INDIRECT USE OF THIS INFORMATION.