Southern Delivery System: Colorado Springs weighing the synergies of allowing northern El Paso County water providers to use project for raw water transport

A picture named sdspreferredalternative.jpg

From the Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

All concerned say that cooperation would help water districts that rely on dwindling groundwater supplies, while stemming sharp rate hikes for Utilities’ customers in coming years. From now until 2016, when water is first delivered, rates will increase 12 percent a year. And that’s just for half the project; the other half, which includes a reservoir, will be built later. If other communities pay to piggy-back onto the pipeline, say some city officials, everybody wins. “That’s the whole goal, is to use that pipeline to its maximum capacity to reduce the impact of SDS on ratepayers,” Vice Mayor Larry Small says…

…recent analysis shows the SDS pipeline won’t be fully used year round, says Gary Bostrom, with Utilities’ water services division. Between November and April, when water demand is low, consumers will use 10 million to 20 million gallons a day from Pueblo Reservoir. That leaves plenty of room for more water to be pumped into storage, whether for pipeline customers or others, to be used during summer months, Bostrom says. “There is ample space in Southern Delivery for regional purposes,” he says…

Bostrom insists the city doesn’t intend to sell its water rights, only to deliver water for others. But even that might bring a squall of costs and red tape. First, city codes restrict water service to within the city limits or to subdivisions agreeing to be annexed. To accommodate outlying partnerships requires changes to the code, and perhaps the City Charter. Second, Pueblo Reservoir storage contracts are available only for those entities located within the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, a multi-county area that’s been taxed for years to build and maintain the reservoir. Some subdivisions interested in SDS don’t lie within the district, Utilities officials say. Then there’s return flows. Fountain Creek is subject to government protection against pollution and erosion. Lastly, the Bureau of Reclamation, which runs Pueblo Reservoir and permits water projects, might need a say-so about new partners’ plans, such as Petersen’s idea to enlarge Upper Williams Creek reservoir. That would take time and money. Colorado Springs’ arduous application process, which included a National Environmental Policy Act study, took nearly six years and cost $19 million. Bostrom says the city will try to recoup a portion of that from any future partners, and Utilities spokeswoman Janet Rummel says SDS construction costs also could become part of any partnership deal…

A fly in the ointment is a recent analysis showing that if [Colorado Springs’] 200 square miles are built out in 30 to 40 years, the city will need 17 million gallons more water than SDS can deliver. The city’s federal application predicted SDS would satisfy needs through 2046. That leads Wayne Vanderschuere with Utilities’ water services division to warn, “I would be concerned about making promises that we may not be able to keep.”

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

Leave a Reply