Southern Delivery System: Pueblo County commissioners approve Colorado Springs Utilities permit application

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It’s been a long time coming but the Pueblo County commissioners approved CSU’s permit application for their proposed Southern Delivery System on Tuesday, according to a report from R. Scott Rappold writing for the Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

Pueblo County commissioners voted 3-0 Tuesday to issue a 1041 land-use permit for the Southern Delivery System, a $1.1 billion pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir…

The Pueblo vote marked the end of hearings on the permit that spanned five months. While Utilities needs numerous other local, state and federal approvals, Pueblo County’s was considered the most crucial, considering the history of contention between the two communities on water issues…

“You’ve got a convert here, somebody who, four or five years ago, had a lot of skepticism about where we were going,” said Pueblo County Commissioner Jeff Chostner. To address the county’s concerns, Utilities has agreed to spend $50 million on improvement projects along the waterway by funding the new Fountain Creek Watershed District; spending $75 million to upgrade its own wastewater or water-reuse systems; and dredging the creek at the Pueblo levees at a cost of $2 million…

Last week, the Colorado Springs City Council voted 8-1 to endorse Pueblo County’s conditions for approval, and on Tuesday, Utilities officials praised the Pueblo County process. It’s the first time Utilities has received a 1041 permit. “Your process has been fair. You’ve worked hard to ensure you’ve protected the interests of your community, and you’ve done it in an open process,” Bruce McCormick, Utilities’ chief water-services officer, told commissioners. The permit gives Utilities three years to begin construction…

While there are several other permits and approvals needed, none will involve such a high level of review, said John Fredell, Utilities’ project manager.

More coverage from Peter Roper writing for the Pueblo Chieftain:

After the formalities of reviewing and adopting the agreement, the commissioners and officials from Colorado Springs Utilities and the Pueblo Board of Water Works gathered for a photograph to commemorate the agreement. Not participating in the photo were officials from the Pueblo West Metropolitan District, which has filed a lawsuit in Pueblo District Court over portions of the agreement that require a guaranteed flow in the Arkansas River…

Ray Petros, special counsel to the county, noted that guaranteeing a flow in the Arkansas River had been part of the SDS discussions since 2003. He said the flow program has been part of public hearings and community meetings that Colorado Springs Utilities conducted on behalf of all the SDS partners, including Pueblo West. Petros told the commissioners that if one of the partners, such as Pueblo West, is allowed to opt out of the guaranteed flow program, it would void that requirement for all the partners. Commissioner Jeff Chostner said that guaranteeing the Arkansas River always has a flow through Pueblo has been an important goal of the project negotiations.

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

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