Southern Delivery System: Pueblo County wants more study, Fremont County sets conditions

A picture named sdspreferredalternative.jpg

From the Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka): “negotiations on unresolved issues continue. County staff requested moving a meeting scheduled for tonight to 6 p.m. March 18 at the Pueblo County Courthouse in order to give county staff more time to work on requirements under the county’s 1041 land-use rules. ‘Honestly, we’re still trying to work out mitigation and conditions that the commissioners will accept,’ said Kim Headley, county planning director. ‘Hopefully we can get something finalized in the next three weeks that protects the county, as we should.’ Commissioners intend to meet briefly tonight to continue a public hearing that began in December.”

Meanwhile, here’s an update on Fremont County’s permit for SDS and the conditions they’ll be enforcing against Colorado Springs Utilities is the project is built through the county, from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Fremont County attached about 40 conditions and a dozen contingencies to the permit, along with the understanding that Colorado Springs will report back often. The first update will come in two weeks, with another scheduled in three months. Those checkpoints will keep the project moving forward even as Pueblo County continues to attempt to resolve differences over levels at Lake Pueblo, flows on the Arkansas River and improvements on Fountain Creek that are intertwined with SDS. Colorado Springs considers Fremont County a fallback option if its desired route through Pueblo County can’t be negotiated. “The applicant is applying in two counties, and Pueblo is treating it in a different way,” Fremont County Commission Chairman Mike Stiehl said at Tuesday’s meeting. “The Bureau of Reclamation has set conditions that we assume they will be enforcing.” That was part of Pueblo County’s decision to postpone a meeting scheduled Wednesday to March 18.

Pueblo County has not been able to move quickly, in part, because the final conditions Reclamation intends to enforce have not been released, Planning Director Kim Headley said. The record of decision, a document that would be the basis of contract negotiations between Colorado Springs and its SDS partners, has not been finalized more than two months after the environmental impact statement for the project was completed in December.

Fremont County commissioners, who signed an agreement last year to expedite the SDS permit, have chosen to let Reclamation work at its own pace on its own issues. Similarly, issues about water flow are for the most part the primary responsibility of the State Division of Water Resources to administer, not the county. Agreements with other federal, state and local agencies are necessary, but the commissioners do not have the sort of regulations that Pueblo has to make additional requirements in those areas. “Our job has been to identify our own concerns and those expressed at the public hearing,” Stiehl said. That does not mean other concerns will be ignored, however. Stiehl and Norden both took great pains to point out that Fremont County’s blessing hinges on Colorado Springs obtaining the approval it needs from other agencies, a theme that is repeated throughout the conditions and contingency document…

Basically, the approval in Fremont County covers the footprint of the project itself, a 100-foot-wide, 17-mile-long path that includes three pump stations. The 66-inch diameter pipeline would bring up to 78 million gallons of water a day from a river intake near Florence to the El Paso County line through Fremont County. From there, it would go to a reservoir and treatment plant to be added to other sources of water to serve Colorado Springs, Fountain and Security…

In Fremont County, talks have just begun among Colorado Springs, Penrose and the Beaver Park Irrigation Co. to determine if the two Fremont County groups can afford to hook into the pipeline. Things are happening later in Fremont County because up until 2007, the Fremont County route was seen as an unrealistic option. During meetings in late 2005, Reclamation was careful to point out that the route was rejected as too costly, but included solely to satisfy the court of public opinion. Water court filings by Colorado Springs, Fountain and Security in late 2006 made it clear that interest was renewed in a Fremont County route, a forgotten piece that showed up on early maps of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project as the route for the Fountain Valley Conduit. The Fountain Valley line eventually was built from Pueblo Dam…

Some of the deadlines for Colorado Springs under the conditions improved Tuesday by Fremont County included:

– Notification within 20 days of every other SDS permit as they are issued.

– Two weeks progress report on negotiations with Penrose and Beaver Park.

– Three-month deadline to reach a deal with Penrose and Beaver Park.

– Work on the project cannot stop for any six-month period.

– One year to obtain easements or parcels needed for the pipeline, provide final engineering reports and install a river gauge below the Eastern Fremont County Sanitation District. Also included in that time-frame are written agreements from the Colorado Department of Transportation regarding easements on Colorado 115, Florence on development of an Arkansas River Park, Penrose, Beaver Park and the Natural Resources Conservation Service regarding flood protection structures for Penrose.

More coverage from Debbie Bell writing for the Cañon City Daily Record:

Almost 50 conditions and contingencies surround the Southern Delivery System permit approved Tuesday by the Fremont County Commissioners. Colorado Springs Utilities, the lead partner in the project, expressed its acceptance of the conditions. “They appear to be consistent with the conditions we reviewed before,” said SDS Project Manager John Fredell. “They appear reasonable to us.”

Among the conditions CSU must meet are:

— Limit construction hours to Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The county may grant exceptions when warranted.

— Install fire protection and cooperate with requirements of the Florence Fire Protection District.

— Post bonds for reclamation.

— Commit in writing to its proposed improvements of Florence River Park.

— Forward Payment in Lieu of Taxes to Fremont County annually equal to any reduction in private property taxes.

— Use Fremont County contractors, businesses, workers, materials and supplies to the extent feasible.

In addition to the conditions surrounding the operation of the facility once built, CSU has 12 months to meet certain conditions, including:

— Obtain all rights for property use and easements.

— Negotiate in good faith with Penrose Water District and Beaver Park Water to form partnerships.

— Obtain proof from Colorado Department of Transportation the project will not impede future widening of Colo. 115.

— Install a USGS-compatible river monitoring gauge immediately below the Arkansas River intake to monitor water flow.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Leave a Reply