Pueblo West: Metropolitan board approve $40,000 for pipeline easement costs

Pueblo West
Pueblo West

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

The Pueblo West Metropolitan District board took another step last week toward saving its precious water resources from evaporation. The board voted unanimously Tuesday to fund $40,000 worth of appraisals for its proposed Wildhorse Pipeline easement. The valuations will help the board reach agreement with property owners.

The board proposes to build a roughly 7-mile pipeline to prevent the estimated 70 percent loss of water due to evaporation or seepage as it is discharged from the Pueblo West treatment plant into Wildhorse Creek, where it is measured for water credit.

“If we can get a good portion of that 70 percent back, it would add up to roughly 1,000 to 1,200 acre-feet of water — enough to supply 2,400 to 3,600 homes annually. It’s a lot of water,” said Jack Johnston, district manager.

The district will need to secure 100 easements, about half of which are through Pueblo city-owned property. Because the district has not been able to reach agreement with the city of Pueblo, it filed a lawsuit in December seeking the right of eminent domain to condemn the property it needs for “the greater public purpose,” Johnston said.

“Water conservation is a statewide interest. We have just about 11,000 water taps but we are not done growing,” Johnston said.

In 2013, Pueblo West received 49 new home permit applications. Johnston said the district also would like to have more water available should a new manufacturing business require significant water.

“To add to our water portfolio for future growth is a solid investment for a community. We also are able to lease any excess water we have,” Johnston explained.

Johnston said the filing of the district court lawsuit was not a step Pueblo West leaders wanted to take. He said he still is hopeful of reaching an agreement with Pueblo officials before the case is heard June 12-13.

“For two government agencies to fight each other does not make sense to me,” said Lew Quigley, board member. “The taxpayers come out the losers.”

Meanwhile, Pueblo County has updated their 1041 regulations, partially in response to Pueblo West’s project. Here’s a report from The Pueblo Chieftain (Peter Roper):

City Council adopted an arsenal of new land-use regulations last week that gives it more voice over the routes of new water pipelines, power plants, transmission lines and even new sewage treatment plants. The unanimous vote came Jan. 13 even as the city and the Pueblo West Metropolitan District are at odds over the route of the Wildhorse Reuse Pipeline Project.

That long-sought project would be a return-flow pipeline from the Pueblo West sewage treatment plant to the Arkansas River below Pueblo Dam. The project has been on the drawing board for several years with agreement of Colorado Springs, Aurora, the Pueblo Board of Water Works — all players that have cooperated on a program to maximize flows in the river.

Pueblo city planners have challenged the proposed route of the pipeline, which Pueblo West officials want to acquire through eminent domain, including some city-owned land. The metro district filed a suit in Pueblo District Court last month to force Pueblo to comply.

On the advice of new City Attorney Dan Kogovsek, council adopted the broader land-use powers. They are commonly called 1041 regulations because they are named after a 1974 law granting local governments a voice over projects that cross multiple jurisdictions.

While Pueblo County attorney, Kogovsek was involved in enforcing the county’s 1041 regulations on Colorado Springs over the route for the Southern Delivery System water pipeline north from Pueblo Dam.

Kogovsek told council it should exercise more authority over projects that cross city lands or will require the extension of city services. He mentioned the Pueblo West pipeline project as well as the possible development of Pueblo Springs Ranch — a 24,000-acre proposed annexation north of the city.

Council approved the new regulations without much debate. Councilman Chris Kaufman asked for assurances the city’s broader power would not restrict business development and Kogovsek said it wouldn’t.

More infrastructure coverage here.

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