Southern Delivery System: EPA still concerned over Colorado Springs’ Fountain Creek mitigation

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The EPA is looking closely at Colorado Springs Utilities’ plans for mitigation of increased flows in Fountain Creek resulting from the proposed Southern Delivery System, according to a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

In a Jan. 29 letter, the EPA said most of its concerns over draft documents were answered in the environmental impact statement for the proposed $1.1 billion SDS pipeline project. However, it continued to raise the question of how Colorado Springs would deal with increased flows in Fountain Creek. The EPA estimates base flows in Fountain Creek would increase 40 percent and new development allowed by SDS would increase the intensity of storm flows. “EPA remains concerned about indirect impacts from induced growth resulting from SDS. EPA believes that the indirect impacts due to the increased flows from the (proposed Williams Creek exchange) reservoir and the additional developed flows from both an increase in impervious surfaces and landscape watering will cause greater water quality impacts than are currently identified in the EIS,” wrote Larry Svoboda, regional director of the National Environmental Policy Act. Reclamation refused to acknowledge the project would cause the impacts envisioned by EPA.

“Reclamation’s view is that growth is not a direct or indirect effect of the proposed SDS project, and effects associated with growth are disclosed with the cumulative effects section of the EIS. …There will be minor increases in peak flows and floodplains for Fountain Creek,” Michael Ryan, Reclamation regional director, replied in the document released this week. Reclamation argues that the increase in Fountain Creek flows is only 2 percent, and that a stormwater enterprise created four years ago would continue regardless of which alternative is chosen.

The internal federal struggle would be mostly a moot point if the proposed route of the pipeline from Pueblo Dam is chosen by Colorado Springs City Council. However, Reclamation’s response indicates it would require less in the way of mitigation if the SDS fall-back route through Fremont County is chosen…

Pueblo County commissioners are requiring $50 million for Fountain Creek projects aimed at reducing the effects of erosion, sedimentation and flooding. They also want to make sure Colorado Springs spends $75 million on planned sewer improvements by 2024. There are also other conditions pertaining to Fountain Creek improvements. If the Fremont County route is chosen, Colorado Springs would have to meet only Reclamation’s requirements. They include an adaptive management program, which the EPA endorses and which also is a part of Pueblo County’s conditions.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here, here and here.

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