Storms are a part of every climate, everywhere in the world and no matter where you live, they’re a fact of life. The larger the storm, the bigger the impact and the flooding repercussions from the more severe events can send out ripple effects—from physical damage to the community to the emotional psyche of residents. That’s why it’s so important to have a proven resource in the Denver metro area that proactively protects against those ripples.
The Mile High Flood District is that resource. Our passionate people and their applied expertise have helped us create innovative solutions that address stormwater and watershed holistically. Together, we protect people, property, and our environment through preservation, mitigation, and education.
We designed our mission statement to be living, breathing reflections of who we are and what we want to accomplish. That’s why they aren’t just written down someplace to be forgotten. Each and every MHFD team member has them memorized to ensure we live them every day.
Our mission is to protect people, property, and our environment through preservation, mitigation, and education.
This statement keep us grounded and act as guides for what we do today and will continue to do in the future.
The Mile High Flood District provides services to all or parts of 41 local governments in the Denver region.
Cherry Hills Village
As a public servant, MHFD takes the stewardship of your tax dollars very seriously. By being open and transparent with our finances and budgets, we prove our dedication to serving the greater good.
Take a look back at the history of Mile High Flood District, from its inception in 1969 as a response to the 1965 Platte River Flood, until present day.
The South Platte River flood of 1965 was Denver’s worst flood of record. It resulted in property losses of about $300 million in Denver alone and over $500 million in the South Platte Basin. Learn More.
National Flood Insurance Act passes. This legislation led to the creation of the National Flood Insurance Program, providing availability to flood insurance and incentivizing best practices in floodplain management.
Senator Shoemaker introduces legislation in the Senate to form the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, it passes 26 to 7. It also passed the house, 49 to 14. The District began operation with two staff and funding of 1/10 mill.
The District adopts regions first floodplain regulations, predating the National Flood Insurance Act
The District assumes responsibility for the Urban Storm Drainage Criteria Manual from DRCOG
The District holds the first Syposium, a two-day event held at the Regency Rodeway Inn Denver with the theme “Urban Drainage in a Regional Context”.
The District’s first masterplans are published for Weir and Sanderson Gulch. City and County of Denver and the City of Lakewood were partners in these efforts.
L. Scott Tucker was selected as Executive Director.
State legislature approved a District Mill levy increase from 1/10 to 5/10 mill (1/10 for Operations and Planning, 4/10 for Construction).
The Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 made the purchase of flood insurance mandatory for the protection of property located in Special Flood Hazard Areas.
On May 6, record flooding occured along the South Platte River through Adams County making the 1965 flood the second largest event for that reach of river.
The District starts a Floodplain Management Program in response to increased instances of damaging floods in the region and in other states due to unchecked development in and along streams.
The District begins process that lead to developing a Flood Warning Program in 1979, which provides early warnings to communities of potential and imminent threats. Floodplain occupants are informed annually of their flood risks and what to do to prepare for floods and be safe during emergencies.
Big Thompson Canyon Flash Flood occurs on July 31 during Colorado’s Centennial celebration causing massive damage totaling over $35 million and claiming over 140 lives.
The District develops a first ever “Flood Disaster Plan” to define roles and responsibilities and tasks during and after a crisis.
The District embarked upon the task of developing a maintenance program after a temporary 4/10 mill levy that would encompass only the “major” portions of some streams passes in the legislature.
The District recieves a “Friends of the River” award from the Greenway foundation for its involvment in the redevelopment of the area
The Maintenance Eligibility Program (MEP) officially begins providing incentives for local governments to require approval of by the District when development is proposed near streams..
The District requested and received a funding increase of 0.1 mill for a South Platte River program.
TABOR is adopted by the voters which freezes District revenues at inflation plus growth and effectively ends future additions to service area by the legislation.
The District relesases Volume 3 of the criteria manual
High snowmelt runoff flooding caused damages in excess of $20 million and claimed 15 lives, most damage occurred outside the district
The first District website goes live at UDFCD.org.
A deadly flash flood occurred in Fort Collins during the evening of July 28. This flood prompted a federal disaster declaration that included a number of Colorado counties. While the Denver area was not part of this declaration, significant flooding which did occur was noted as its “worst of the past decade.”
The District became the first FEMA Cooperating Technical Partner (CTP). This program is an innovative approach to create partnerships between FEMA and state, regional and local partners to keep flood hazard maps current and increase public awareness of risk and potential mitigation options.
It’s a busy time at the District as a 40-year low in mortgage rates is causing a rapid development expansion along the front range with the growth expected to continue for several years to come.
The District begins using GIS for the routine maintenance program, moving away from the standard library of aerial images that were previously used.
Dave Lloyd becomes Executive Director
The DCM program is created and managed by Paul Hindman
On May 14, a storm in Denver claimed the life of a 2-year old boy after he was swept away from his mother by fast rising floodwaters. Five years later The District and Denver finished removing the walled section of this reach in Lakewood Gulch. Learn More
Paul Hindman becomes Executive Director.
The District undertook the massive task of migtrating the majority of the printed materials (OSPs, Masterplans, As-builts) to the website. Mission and Vison statement was created by the District staff.
September floods cause widespread damage to many areas of the District due to rainfall that exceeded the 500-year event in places
After pitching the idea of a State-wide stormwater education program to CSU, the District secured a grant to help start the Colorado Stormwater Center Learn More
The District holds the first Stream Management Academy to bring a diverse group of professionals together to learn how to work collaboratively on watershed and stream projects. Watch Now
Ken Mackenzie becomes Executive Director
The Master Planning and Floodplain Programs are consolidated to form “Watershed Services” and the Design, Construction, and Maintenance Program is rebranded as “Stream Services.”
The District starts the Design Services Enterprise allowing the District use funding from developers to construct stream improvement. These fee-in-lieu improvement (FILI) projects are done on a volentary basis.
Residents of the District pass 7G, a bill removing the District from the restrictions of TABOR. This will nearly double the annual budget over the next two years.
The District restructures the organization to distribute projects based on watersheds. This “Watershed Approach” increases the breadth of work for engineering staff and removes the silos of the previous programatic structure.
The District rebrands as “Mile High Flood District” and develops a new logo just in time for a 50th year celebration!
MHFD creates a dedicated Property Acquisition Fund Reserve for floodplain preservation property acquisitions. This fund will help local governments purchase at-risk properties in the floodplain and return the land to the stream cooridor.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the world in mid-March, MHFD closed the office and the staff of over 50 worked from home for the remainer of 2020 and into 2021.