Southern Delivery System: Coalition of conservation groups favor more study of alternatives

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Conservation and environmental groups are worried that the proposed Southern Delivery System’s releases into Fountain Creek would negatively impact the waterway, according to Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“The proposed discharge would have profound and pervasive negative impacts on the aquatic ecosystem and the environment within the Arkansas River basin,” said Joseph Santarella, attorney for the Rocky Mountain Environmental Labor Coalition. The coalition raises 14 points on which a permit for SDS would violate the Clean Water Act in a 44-page letter to the Corps released on Friday…

The letter claims the project is not the least environmentally damaging alternative, as required by federal law. Other alternatives, including one considered by the Bureau of Reclamation to protect wetlands, were not included in the Section 404 permit application, Santarella said. SDS would result in degradation of aquatic habitat; could lead to higher levels of contaminants like selenium, mercury and E. coli; and contribute to violations of state water quality standards, the letter stated. Additionally, the specific steps that would be taken to deal with those problems are not fully explained and the method to evaluate compliance are “skewed” and “biased,” according to Santarella’s letter.

The groups also raise the issue of environmental justice that they say has not been addressed in any evaluation of SDS so far. The project, through its increase of flows on Fountain Creek, would have a disproportionate impact on low-income minorities living on Pueblo’s East Side and in the Lower Arkansas Valley, the letter states…

Colorado Springs City Council should finalize the route in July, which could trigger negotiations with Reclamation for those parts of the project that involve Pueblo Dam and Lake Pueblo.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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