S.B. 09-141, Fountain Creek Watershed

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Governor Ritter signed S.B. 09-141 last week. The legislation creates the Fountain Creek Flood Control and Greenway District. Here’s a report from Charles Ashby writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The measure, backed by Democratic and Republican lawmakers on both sides of the Pueblo-El Paso county line, allows officials in the two counties and area municipalities to create a new Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District.

It was the product of years of negotiations – and infighting – between officials on both sides of the line.

“We all know how contentious water fights can be, and there have been some legendary fights in different parts of the state not the least of which have involved Pueblo and Colorado Springs,” Ritter said during a bill-signing ceremony for SB141. “That’s why this bill is so important to Colorado’s water future. This represents an incredible collaborative accomplishment between two counties over an extremely contentious issue.” Though local elected officials in the two counties were primarily responsible for working out the details, Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, and Reps. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, and Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, carried it through the Legislature. Tapia said the measure will likely become a model for other intergovernmental agreements on dealing with water issues…

The 60-page measure would establish a nine-member board that would oversee the flood plain from Fountain to Pueblo. Under it, four district boundaries would be created with varying degrees of authority. While the full boundary of the district would include all of Pueblo and El Paso counties, any fees imposed by it would apply only to a smaller area encompassing the watershed. The panel also would have some land-use authority, but only on a small tract right along the river. Under the bill, the district would have the ability to impose fees, and place before voters in both counties a new tax to help pay for improvements. It is, however, limited to asking voters for no more than 5 mills, which could raise about $30 million a year. The district also is to get about $50 million from a Southern Delivery System mitigation fund, which is to be used to get a matching federal grant that could bring in another $150 million.

From the Pueblo Chieftain:

Applicants are being sought for the joint Pueblo city-county appointment to the Fountain Creek Watershed Governing Board, which will become the Fountain Creek Flood Control and Greenway District when a new state law takes effect in July…Terms can be 2, 3 or 4 years on the nine-member board. The district will have primary land-use authority in the flood plain of Fountain Creek and will have input on land-use decisions and policy throughout the watershed. Applications are available at the Pueblo County clerk’s office or online at the county Web site. They should be completed and returned no later than 4:30 p.m. May 15.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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