From The Pueblo Chieftain (Robert Voczkiewicz):
The state and federal agencies told a judge Thursday that they support the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District’s request to have a courtroom voice in a clean-water lawsuit against Colorado Springs.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are suing the city, which discharges pollutants into Fountain Creek and other tributaries.
The Lower Ark district wants to join the case as an intervenor to protect the district’s interest during the litigation…
Senior Judge Richard Matsch is presiding over the case in U.S. District Court in Denver and will decide whether to grant Lower Ark’s request.
The EPA and the state health-environment department filed the lawsuit Nov. 9. It alleges that Colorado Springs’ storm sewer system is violating federal and state clean water laws.
The city denies it is violating the laws. Mayor John Suthers recently pointed to additional expenditures the city is making as an example of its commitment to correct storm water problems.
The storm water contains pollutants, including E. coli, that flow into the river from creek tributaries.
The district encompasses Bent, Crowley, Otero, Prowers and Pueblo counties, where considerable produce, including Rocky Ford melons, are grown.
In Thursday’s court filing reviewed by The Pueblo Chieftain, the EPA and the department told Matsch they agree with Lower Ark that it should have a voice in court because the district wants the river water to have adequate quality.
To achieve that, the agencies and the district want Colorado Springs to reduce the amount of polluted discharges.
The environmental agencies contend Colorado Springs mischaracterizes the lawsuit as being focused on past issues, but it in fact “seeks to remedy current and ongoing violations.”
The environmental agencies disagree with Colorado Springs’ arguments that the district has no legal right to become an intervenor and that intervention will unduly complicate the litigation.
The lawsuit seeks a court order requiring the city “to develop, implement and enforce” its stormwater management program, as required by permits the government has issued. The lawsuit goes on to ask a judge to impose monetary penalties on Colorado Springs for the violations.