From The Pueblo Chieftain (Jeff Tucker):
The Pueblo Board of County Commissioners got a first look at a resolution that will allow the board to retain legal counsel along with engineering consultants and other staff to evaluate whether Colorado Springs’ lack of any consistent stormwater funding is a deal-breaker for the Southern Delivery System.
The board took no official action on the measure, instead instructing attorneys Gary Raso and Ray Petros to fine-tune the resolution before it comes back for a vote.
The crux of the issue is the failure of a ballot measure in Colorado Springs in November that would have created a dedicated funding source for stormwater improvements in Colorado Springs that could mitigate the impact of runoff into the Fountain Creek.
The work that would be cleared by the resolution will allow staff to examine what’s been done so far and what still needs to be done for Colorado Springs to comply with the stormwater requirement in the SDS 1041 permit.
“We need to develop a factual basis for any action we take,” said Raso. “It would be the first time that Pueblo County would have an independently established set of facts about the stormwater flowing through the Fountain Creek.”
Petros told commissioners Monday that Colorado Springs has provided staff a summary of its stormwater expenditures.
Colorado Springs has indicated that it has budgeted $17 million this year for more improvements, but Petros said there’s yet to be any indication what those improvements are or if they’re among the 239 projects worth more than $534 million identified in 2013.
Commissioner Sal Pace said he wants a clear picture on what projects Colorado Springs has planned that directly mitigate impacts on the Fountain Creek and which ones are aimed at fixing the challenge of runoff from the various burn scars in the area.
It’s possible that building flood control projects for the burn scar will have an impact on the flooding in Fountain Creek. But Commission Chairwoman Liane “Buffie” McFadyen wondered whether the impacts of the Waldo Canyon Fire are accounted for under the current agreements over the SDS, since those were signed before the first spark of the catastrophic fire ever landed.
McFadyen also worried that the work set forth in the resolution may be at odds with the needs of the county’s own constituents in Pueblo West. The metro district ties into SDS.
“I don’t want to see Pueblo West used in a way that could be interpreted as gamesmanship in all of this,” she said.
Commissioner Terry Hart noted that the $50 million being paid to the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District likely won’t be enough to pay for the mitigation projects in Pueblo County and asked Petros and Raso to include a specific date in the resolution as to when the information will be ready.
Petros suggested the end of June, to give the newly elected mayor and City Council time to get sworn in after April 7 elections and for next month’s lawsuit over compensation by Colorado Springs to Walker Ranches to run its course.
However, Hart said he’d like to see it sooner.
“I didn’t create this problem,” he said. “What created this problem was the failure of the question in November.”
More stormwater coverage here.