S.B. 09-141, Fountain Creek Watershed

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S.B. 09-141 which would authorize the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District is awaiting Governor Ritter’s signature. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain:

The new district — officially named the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District — has numerous boundaries with varying authorities. Its overall purpose is to address flooding, drainage, water quality and erosion problems within the creek’s basin.

Initially, El Paso County officials complained that the district included too much of northern county and not enough of Pueblo County. Pueblo County officials, meanwhile, argued that was because most of the creek valley is up north, and most flood or drainage problems naturally begin there. That’s why the 60-page measure includes four different boundaries, each with limited authority…

The last major battle over the measure came in how to define its boundaries. The full boundaries of the district include all of El Paso and Pueblo counties, but a fee and taxing area includes an area smaller than that, but larger than the actual Fountain Creek drainage. The last, and smallest boundary is the flood plain area, a narrow strip that extends from the south end of the city of Fountain to Pueblo’s northern edge. Only there would the district have powers over land-use issues. While the district will have the ability to address wastewater issues, the bill makes it clear that it would be unable to regulate that activity because the state already does that. The House had placed language in the bill to prevent it from addressing wastewater, but it was later taken out. “The amendments in the House were problematic, but they were stripped out, so basically it was the same version that came out of the Senate,” Tapia said. “I talked to the principal players, and they were very happy with how the bill came out. We have a document that we can be pleased that Pueblo is going to be taken care of, and Colorado Springs can buy into.”[…]

The bill also limits to 5 mills how much the district may ask voters to approve to pay for improvements. That amount would raise only about $30 million a year. The district, however, hopes to see more money come to it from a $50 million Southern Delivery System mitigation fund, which it would use to receive a $150 million matching federal grant. That’s where U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., is expected to come in.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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