Here’s a look at the discussion prompted by Colorado Springs’ proposed Southern Delivery System route through Fremont County, from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:
If the westerly route is chosen over the proposed action at Pueblo Dam, water providers in Fremont County could benefit, said Bruce McCormick, Colorado Springs water services chief. How, exactly, they can benefit is still a matter of negotiations that were occurring on the eve of the Fremont County hearing and will continue over at least the next two weeks. “We feel it’s best to meet with stakeholders and get down to their concerns,” said John Fredell, SDS project director. Colorado Springs verbally committed to adding hydrants for fire protection and improving Florence’s river park as benefits to Fremont County at the public hearing last week. Holcim Cement concerns were mollified. Minimum flows in the Arkansas River for a regional sanitation plant and for rafters seem to be assured.
Some tougher questions loomed. The toughest dealt with the possibility of adding the Penrose Water District to the SDS line. Colorado Springs amended its plan in Pueblo County in 2007 to include a tap for Pueblo West if the project comes from Pueblo Dam. That change allowed full evaluation of Pueblo West as an SDS partner under the Bureau of Reclamation’s environmental impact statement. It also provided a tangible benefit for ‘Pueblo County that is missing in Fremont County. Pueblo West is contributing just $1 million toward SDS under its 2007 agreement with Colorado Springs, Security and Fountain to participate in the project. The cost of building a river intake if the pipeline goes to Fremont County could be as much as $8 million.
The Penrose Water District could realize a similar savings. In 2006, the district bought water rights from Denzel Goodwin, a western Fremont County rancher. It applied for, and received, an $8.9 million loan from the Colorado Water Conservation Board toward a $9.7 million project to develop a well field, pipeline and storage for the water that it would gain. SDS would be a much more attractive option. It would be relatively simple and less costly for the Penrose Water District to tap into the pipeline or share the intake at the Lester-Atterbury Ditch. The Penrose district has little money to put toward SDS or the revised EIS that would be needed should it become a partner, said Lissa Pinello, president of the district. Additionally, the district’s board had not formally met on a course of action.
The Beaver Park Water District, which has 530 shareholders and sells water for Penrose is further along in negotiations, said Gary Ratkovich, president. The district and Colorado Springs are talking about ways to bring water into Penrose from the Arkansas River as well as the Beaver Park drainage. One sticking point has been money, since Beaver Park also would have to pay to play in the SDS project. Beaver Park has a history of dealing with Colorado Springs, purchasing the Golden Cycle water rights it now owns from Colorado Springs in 1976. Ratkovich asked commissioners for a two-week delay to give the district time to negotiate a contract with Colorado Springs that would include both supply options and conditions for future water district projects.
Commissioners also had a late request from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a federal agency, to coordinate proposed flood protection projects in the Penrose area that in some cases share a footprint with the pipeline.