In #Fountain, #Colorado, There’s Plenty Of Room For New Homes. But There Isn’t Enough #Water — Colorado Public Radio

Sprawl

From Colorado Public Radio (Michael Elizabeth Sakas):

Colorado Springs is one of the fastest growing regions in the state. Homes are getting more expensive and harder to buy. The boom is expanding into nearby cities — and the pressure is building…

There are currently fewer than 9,000 taps, or connections, to Fountain’s water supply. Over the last year, Blankenship said developers have applied for nearly 30,000 new taps to the city’s water system.

[Dan] Blankenship is telling developers, Fountain is tapped out…

To support that many new taps, the city would need to buy additional rights to use more water. They would also need a place to store that water, and the city would need to treat it and find a way to get it to homes.

Summary of Observed Wet & Dry Surface Water Hydrology via SCW

That’s getting harder to make happen in a state like Colorado, where most of the people live on the Front Range but most of the water is on the Western Slope.

Where the city of Fountain gets its water from

Fountain gets most of its water from the Pueblo Reservoir, which is filled with water that would otherwise end up in the Colorado River. The reservoir project was built in the 1970s. It’s unlikely the city would be able to build something similar today, Blankenship said. It’s a lot tougher to do that now, just because of the environmental concerns…

Smith said it’s becoming more common for developers to have to secure water rights and pay for additional water infrastructure if they want to build a big project.

But he said the situation in Fountain is unusual…

Fountain hasn’t finalized any plans yet, but they say developers are going to need to help pay the millions of dollars to buy those new water rights, reservoirs, and pipes needed to support that kind of growth. Blankenship, Fountain’s utility director, said instead of the city paying for that upfront, he wants to shift that cost to developers…

No matter how a developer might have to secure water for a new project, the cost will get rolled into the price of a new home, said Kevin Walker, with the housing and building association in Colorado Springs…

Kevin Reidy, a senior water conservation specialist with the Colorado Water Conservation Board, said other water utilities are also worried about how to keep up with growth. Fountain is just the first to talk so openly about the issue…

A big part of Reidy’s job is to get water and land planners to work together, which he said have been too siloed. Reidy helps host training events to get water and land people in the same room to talk about these issues.

“I think we’re kind of hitting that point where people are kind of saying, ‘Okay wow, we’ve got to do things differently,’” Reidy said.

For Fountain, that means telling developers this town doesn’t have the water you need. If you want to build here, you’ll have to bring your own.

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