Pueblo West is educating public about potential effects if the city is require to join Pueblo flow program

A picture named sdspreferredalternative.jpg

From the Pueblo West View (Mike Spence):

Pueblo West officials are planning to meet with as many local groups as possible in an effort to educate them on the Southern Delivery System and the flow management program. A special public meeting with Pueblo West’s Metropolitan District board of directors was held at the Pueblo West Library three weeks ago. The latest stop on the tour was at the Rotary Club’s meeting last week. Steve Harrison, Pueblo West’s director of utilities, presented Pueblo West’s case against Pueblo West’s participation in the flow management program. The short synopsis is that Pueblo West sought to partner with Colorado Springs Utilities on the SDS project. The pipeline coming out of Pueblo Dam would be expanded from 72 inches to 96 inches to allow Pueblo West to take up to 18 million gallons of water daily from Pueblo Reservoir…

Pueblo West’s role with the SDS would be small – only the first 800 feet of the 43-mile pipeline would be involved. Things were proceeding smoothly until March 5 when the Pueblo County Board of Commissioners released its 1041 permit requirements for the SDS project. Requirement No. 9 was that Pueblo West participate in the flow management program. The purpose of the flow management program is to ensure that a minimal amount of water (100 cubic feet per second) flows through the Arkansas River from Pueblo Dam through Pueblo’s legacy project that includes Pueblo’s kayak course.

County officials insist the impact on Pueblo West would be minimal – from zero to 50 acre feet of water annually. Studies, however, indicate the impact would be around 700 acre feet of water per year. None of the other partners in the flow management program back up the county’s projections. Pueblo West officials estimate the replacement cost of that water would be around $5 million – if the additional water could be found.

County officials have said the 1041 permit requirements are non-negotiable and they have stuck to that stance. That prompted the metro district in May to file suit against the county over the flow management program. Pueblo West followed that suit with a letter opposing the Army Corps of Engineer’s 404 permit dealing with wetlands in connection with the SDS project…

Whatever amount of water is lost is critical because Pueblo West doesn’t have much to spare, according to Harrison. The district has enough water for its customers now (10,600 tapholders, about 33,000 residents), but is working to acquire more to accommodate buildout (60,000 residents). The district has enough water rights to collect about 8,300 acre feet of water in an average year, Harrison said. But Harrison said those water rights, which collect water from mountains on the West side of the Continental Divide above Leadville, collect only about 4,500 acre feet of water in a dry year. That can put Pueblo West in a tight situation because the metro district needs about 4,500 acre feet of water to supply its existing residents and businesses…

Pueblo West officials think they have a strong case because it never agreed to the flow program, despite its participation in the pipeline. And that is reflected in language approved by federal authorities in the environmental impact statement for the pipeline. In addition, Pueblo West’s water has never been used in the portion of the river (between the upper gage near Pueblo Dam and West Fourth Street. Supporters of the flow management program, however, say that Pueblo West’s water usage does have an impact on that section of river. Because Pueblo West water is non-native to the Arkansas River Basin, it can be reused over and over again. Pueblo West takes its water from the reservoir, then sends its wastewater down Wildhorse Creek into the Arkansas River near West Fourth Street. However, it is credited for the amount of water it is putting into the river at that point and is allowed to exchange that credit for water in the reservoir Pueblo West is seeking to build a Pump Back project that will take the wastewater and treat it and send it back into the reservoir, skipping the exchange process. That will increase Pueblo West’s water supply by about two acre feet a day.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Leave a Reply