Southern Delivery System: Reclamation’s EIS incorporated Colorado Springs’ stormwater enterprise which is now defunct

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“As I view it, there were firm commitments made on stormwater and the (SDS) contract requires that the environmental commitments are met,” Mike Connor, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation said Wednesday, meeting with the editorial board of The Pueblo Chieftain.

In the SDS environmental impact statement, Reclamation states a stormwater enterprise is in place for Colorado Springs. The EIS laid the foundation for the 2010 contract for the project. The contract also incorporates all environmental conditions of Pueblo County’s 1041 landuse permit and state water quality measures. Connor’s goal is to assure the conditions are being met before 2016, when SDS is scheduled to go online. The $1 billion project would pipe water from Pueblo Dam to Colorado Springs, Security, Fountain and Pueblo West. Because Colorado Springs abolished its stormwater enterprise in 2009, no fees have been collected for the past three years. Meanwhile, Colorado Springs faces a $500 million backlog of stormwater projects and should be paying up to $15 million annually, according to City Attorney Chris Melcher.

“A plan is not enough,” Connor said. “We need to make sure the resources are there.”

Meanwhile, Colorado Springs is not alone in needing to fund stormwater improvements. El Paso County faces similar problems. Here’s a report from Scott Harrison writing for KRDO.com. From the article:

Andre Brackin, the El Paso County Engineer, said the area, specifically the communities of Security and Widefield, have only a few drainage channels for runoff to drain into Fountain Creek.

Those communities were established in the 1950s and have grown since then, said Brackin. He estimated that addressing the area’s stormwater needs would cost $10 million — an amount the county can’t afford…

The lack of funds means the county also can’t afford to clear vegetation and rubbish out of the few existing drainage channels, such as the one along Widefield Boulevard…

Ultimately, said Brackin, local leaders must consider enacting some type of regional fee or tax to pay for stormwater improvements. He said the county has a backlog of as much as $100 million in needed improvements.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

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