From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
Water rights and cost issues still must be decided, but a study of the effectiveness of dams in Fountain Creek should be finalized in January. The study’s release was delayed a month because of a federal government shutdown, but the results have been reported for months.
“There has been no study of costs and benefits,” David Mau, head of the Pueblo office of the U.S. Geological Survey told the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board Thursday. The USGS did the study in conjunction with the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District. The local share of funds for the $500,000 study was provided through $300,000 paid by Colorado Springs Utilities as part of its Pueblo County 1041 permit conditions for the Southern Delivery System.
The study looks at a 100-year storm centered over downtown Colorado Springs, and the effectiveness of dams or diversions at various locations along Fountain Creek. The most effective alternatives were a large dam on Fountain Creek or a series of detention ponds south of Colorado Springs. Mau said the number of ponds was not as important as the volume of water that could be stored.
There were some snickers in the room when Mau pointed out that roads and railroad tracks would have to be moved to build a large dam approximately 10 miles from the confluence of Fountain Creek. But it was pointed out that a large flood also could relocate roads, railroad tracks and utility lines, as was the case in Northern Colorado in September. Pueblo County lost the Pinon Bridge in the 1999 flood.
Mau said the amount of sediment trapped by a dam would amount to 2,500 truckloads, but said smaller ponds also would require extensive maintenance to remain effective.
Board member Vera Ortegon asked Mau which alternative he would recommend.
“We look at the science,” Mau said. “I could give you my personal opinion, but I won’t.”
Meanwhile property owners continue to chip away at the Fryingpn-Arkansas Project debt. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain:
Property owners in nine counties will continue to make a dent in the federal debt for the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project next year. The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, the agency in charge of repaying the debt, will collect another $6.5 million in property taxes next year, most of which goes toward reducing the debt. The board reviewed the budget Thursday and is expected to pass it on Dec. 5. The district began paying off $129 million in federal loans in 1982 on a 50-year loan. The amount represents the region’s share of the $585 million cost to build the Fryingpan- Arkansas Project. About $36 million of the debt will remain at the end of the year, Executive Director Jim Broderick told the board Thursday.
The district collects 0.944 mills in property taxes in parts of Bent, Chaffee, Crowley, El Paso, Fremont, Kiowa, Otero, Pueblo and Prowers counties. Of that, 0.9 mills goes toward federal repayment and the rest toward operating expenses.
It also will collect $5.3 million in pass-through revenues from El Paso County to repay the federal government for building the Fountain Valley Conduit.
The district also collects funds through sale of Fry-Ark water, fees and grants.
The district’s operating budget is $2.24 million next year, with an additional $1.07 million in capital projects planned.
The enterprise budget, paid mostly by user fees, totals $2.8 million, which includes $880,000 in capital projects.
The district is responsible for paying the Bureau of Reclamation to operate and maintain the project. The district also allocates water to cities and farms, and provides legal protection of FryArk water rights.
More Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District coverage here.