From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
Pueblo West indicated it would still submit a site application to the state for a $6.5 million project to discharge sewer flows into a wash two miles above Lake Pueblo near the golf course, even after the Pueblo Area Council of Governments rejected the proposal on an 11-1 vote earlier this month. “We don’t know what’s going to transpire with the lawsuit against the county,” said Steve Harrison, Pueblo West utilities director. “In case we can’t come to some sort of agreement, we are applying for the site application.”
PACOG rejected the proposal because it goes against county regulations on Section 208 of the federal Clean Water Act, adopted in 1993. Pueblo West would pursue the plan because it offers the best solution for future water needs. The 208 regulations are being applied to the metro district selectively and are out of date, Harrison said.
Most of Pueblo West water comes from the Colorado River Basin, which means the community can reuse the non-native flows to extinction. Currently, Pueblo West reuses the water by exchange, sending its treated sewer flows down Wild Horse Dry Creek, and recapturing about 30 percent of them after transit losses. Pueblo West estimates it could recapture 98 percent of flows with a direct exchange into Lake Pueblo.
But other water users like the Pueblo Board of Water Works and the Fountain Valley Authority are concerned that nutrient loading from the proposed pumpback could upset the biological balance of the reservoir and create new water quality issues. There is also growing pressure to regulate traces of compounds from pharmaceuticals, detergents and fertilizers that would be more likely to make their way into the water supply. “We have serious concerns for the health of the reservoir, not only in terms of water quality, but taste and odor issues as well,” said Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo water board. “Pueblo Reservoir is also the most-used recreational facility in the state.”[…]
Wild Horse Dry Creek discharges into the Arkansas River about six miles downstream of a river gauge critical to the flow program, and about one mile above the river intake for the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo and Black Hills Energy. It is a significant source of selenium loading, probably because of the geology of the area – water running over shale formations.
Among the alternatives that have surfaced are:
-Building a discharge pipeline to discharge just below Pueblo Dam above the river gauge.
-Building a discharge pipeline to carry effluent to the Wild Horse confluence at the Arkansas River.
-Creating a trade with the Pueblo water board to use Pueblo West effluent to supply the Comanche Power Plant, with the water board providing water to Pueblo West. The water would still get payments from outside water sales.
-Possibly developing a cooperative arrangement among Pueblo West, Colorado Springs and the Pueblo water board to recapture flows downstream.
-Maintaining the status quo, which could leave Pueblo West in the position of having to buy new water rights if its other plans fail or with a pumpback plan in place despite the local objections…
The State Department of Public Health and Environment would have to buck the PACOG recommendation if it approves the site application…
Pueblo County also has notified Pueblo West that it would require a 1041 permit for the pumpback plan, since Pueblo West identified it as a water supply issue, Headley said.
More Pueblo West coverage here.