Southern Delivery System: Pueblo County permit requirements meet with little consternation from Springs’ city council

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Reflecting the fact that Pueblo County and Colorado Springs Utilities’ planners had been meeting for months to work out and understand concerns over the proposed Southern Delivery System, there was little opposition to the additional $125 million added to the project by Pueblo County. Here’s a report from R. Scott Rappold writing for the Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

About 90 people showed up. Of 11 who spoke, all but three praised the conditions, and several touted the pipeline as an economic – and even recreational – benefit for the reservoir on Upper Williams Creek…

“We believe they are reasonable and they are appropriate,” said Utilities CEO Jerry Forte. “We believe these conditions give us an opportunity to be responsible to our customers, our environment and our neighbors.”[…]

The City Council will vote on the conditions Tuesday. The Pueblo County commissioners will then vote to issue a permit. Under the conditions, Utilities officials would have to begin construction within three years.

More coverage from the Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The permit would be a “green light” to build a pipeline from Pueblo Dam to meet needs up north, Colorado Springs Utilities Chief Executive Officer Jerry Forte told Council. “Your approval would be a green light to come from Pueblo Dam. . . . Coming from the reservoir is like having a giant bucket of water,” Forte said. “It’s the least expensive place for us to build, operate and maintain the pipeline.” Forte asked council to approve the conditions, which he said are acceptable to Utilities…

Pueblo County’s conditions include $75 million for ongoing sewage system upgrades and $50 million for Fountain Creek improvements. They also include agreements that protect flows in the Arkansas River below Pueblo, an agreement with the Pueblo Board of Water Works on a new North Outlet Works at Pueblo Dam and a program to maintain levels at Lake Pueblo. Colorado Springs also has committed to creating new wetlands and erosion control at Clear Springs Ranch, property it owns south of Fountain. The conditions allow future partners to be added to SDS, as long as water is not taken out of the Arkansas River basin. There are also conditions that regulate construction activities, provide for repair of roads damaged during construction and for revegetation of land. Colorado Springs has also committed to using eminent domain only as a last resort to acquire property and easements for the project…

Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo Board of Water Works, asked Council to approve Pueblo County conditions and build the pipeline through Pueblo, rather than Fremont County, because of the superiority of a connection to the dam. Hamel also spoke in favor of the river flow and outlet agreements…

Don Schley, a Colorado Springs development consultant, said the cost of SDS has not been fully revealed. He said the city has spent money on parts of the project that were later changed and criticized how the city has handle its water rights portfolio. “The need alone to pump water uphill 1,700 feet is an unbearable cost for ratepayers,” Schley said. “The community cannot bear this cost when there are other alternatives that are more feasible.”

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Dave Miller, of Palmer Lake, told council it should consider his Central Colorado Project, a plan to build a reservoir at Union Park in Gunnison County, and called SDS an “interim project” until his project could be built. Miller has promoted other versions of the project without success for more than 20 years.

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

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