Colorado Springs Utilities to pay $7.1 million to settle lawsuit with Pueblo County rancher — Colorado Springs Gazette

Southern Delivery System route map -- Graphic / Reclamation
Southern Delivery System route map — Graphic / Reclamation

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Billie Stanton Anleu):

Utilities announced the settlement Thursday. It had appealed the jury decision May 7, followed by Walker’s appeal May 14. Under the settlement, both appeals will be dismissed.

The city-owned utilities company also will fence revegetated areas on the ranches to protect them from cattle and will erect berms to reduce erosion across the 5.5-mile easement Walker provided for installation of the Southern Delivery System pipeline.

The rancher and Utilities had agreed that the easement was worth $82,900, and the pipeline was installed there in 2012…

But the SDS easement caused problems, Walker said at trial, with rain eroding the pipeline scar and Utilities introducing soils contaminated with seeds of invasive species. He also said the pipeline jeopardized a $25 million conservation easement he was negotiating with the Nature Conservancy for $1,680 an acre on 15,000 acres.

The settlement says both parties are committed to work together to manage and maintain the right-of-way.

Utilities said the pact gives it “additional certainty” about SDS costs, thus minimizing risk to ratepayers.

“It has always been our intent when working with property owners to use the court process as a last resort,” SDS program director John Fredell said in a news release. “By successfully resolving these issues with Mr. Walker, we can focus on completing the required revegetation on his property and finishing the SDS project on time and under budget.”

From the Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

Colorado Springs Utilities and Pueblo County rancher Gary Walker have come to terms to settle a lawsuit over land needed for the Southern Delivery System water pipeline.

The city-owned utility will pay Walker Ranches $7.1 million, ending litigation that led to a jury award of $4.75 million earlier this year and subsequent appeals filed by both the city and Walker.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here.

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