Southern Delivery System update

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Here’s an update on Colorado Springs Utilities proposed Southern Delivery System, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“The people who are supposed to be in oversight agencies are not looking out for me,” rancher Gary Walker said Monday. “I’m sure Colorado Springs has met one-on-one with the Bureau of Reclamation and the Pueblo County commissioners. I have asked for that, but it hasn’t happened yet. The playing field isn’t level.” Walker’s latest complaint comes after last week’s action by the Army Corps of Engineers to deny requests for a public hearing on SDS. The Corps explained the Bureau of Reclamation’s environmental impact statement sufficiently covered most of the issues in the case. Reclamation issued a record of decision approving the SDS use of federal facilities at Lake Pueblo on March 20. It will negotiate contracts with the SDS partners – Colorado Springs, Security, Fountain and Pueblo West – at a later date.

The Bureau of Reclamation has not visited Walker Ranches to discuss his concern about rare native plants that are still being catalogued by the Nature Conservancy and the Colorado Natural Heritage program, Walker said. “With my finding of rare and endangered plants in the SDS’s proposed route and with the ongoing damage that was caused by your last pipeline that crossed my property, I was in hope of having some semblance of equality in this issue,” Walker wrote in an e-mail to the Bureau of Reclamation Monday…

Reclamation ran a five-year public process on the project, and provided other opportunities for Walker to comment, said Kara Lamb, public information officer for the bureau. “All of those environmental mitigations are included in the final EIS,” Lamb said. “And there is another public process on the horizon when contract negotiations start.”[…]

Last month, Colorado Springs City Council voted to move completion of the first phase of the $1 billion-plus pipeline project to 2016, from the announced completion date of 2012. “We believe the 2016 in-service date provides adequate time to address Mr. Walker’s concerns and develop specific mitigation plans for his property. It’s our intent to work closely with Mr. Walker on these plans,” said Keith Riley, SDS planning and permitting manager. “We’ve been working on a rare plant study with the Colorado Natural Heritage program – the group recommended by Mr. Walker,” Riley added. “We’ve also been working to identify some areas to do test plots for revegetation after pipeline construction. This will allow us to test the revegetation process to ensure it will be effective.”

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

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