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City Council Approves Monumental Stormwater Deal

Apr 21, 2016

By: Josh Egbert/KKTV  |  View Video Broadcast Here!

 

{Fountain Creek}

Colorado Springs City Council has approved a multi-million dollar stormwater deal, intended to help prevent catastrophic flooding in Pueblo County.

As expected, the deal sailed through City Council, easily winning on an 8-1 vote. Our partners at The Gazette, who were at the special meeting Wednesday afternoon, say Councilmember Helen Collins was the lone dissenter.

The stormwater deal is between the city, Colorado Springs Utilities and Pueblo County. With City Council's vote Wednesday, Pueblo County commissioners are all that stands between finalizing the deal. They vote April 25.

Fountain Creek flooding has been a point of contention between El Paso and Pueblo counties for several years. Being neighbors, issues in one county can sometimes directly affect the other. Case in point: Fountain Creek. The creek flows downstream from El Paso County to Pueblo County. When it floods in El Paso County--a common occurrence in recent years as a result of both the Waldo Canyon burn scar and a couple of wetter than usual years--the water continues downstream to Pueblo County and can cause major problems there.

Colorado Springs has done little to help the issue, the Environmental Protection Agency found during inspections last summer. The Gazette reports that among the EPA's findings: Colorado Springs has failed to properly enforce drainage regulations, conduct adequate inspections, require enough infrastructure from developers or properly maintain and operate its stormwater controls. Pueblo County has been the unwitting victim.

Back in 2010, a stormwater enterprise agreement between the two cities was eliminated by the Colorado Springs City Council. Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers renewed the negotiations last year shortly after he was elected to the office. He said last July that Colorado Springs has an obligation to mitigate Fountain Creek as it flows downstream.

Pueblo County commissioners were initially skeptical, telling 11 News in January that they've seen similar promises in the past that never came through. Suthers assured them things were different this time.

A deal was announced April 11.

In the deal, Colorado Springs will pledge $460 million to Pueblo for stormwater control. The money will be spent in five-year increments, and will go towards 71 projects in Pueblo over the next 20 years. If those projects are not completed by 2035, it would cost the Springs another $26 million each year for a maximum of five years to finish those projects.

Deals like this have failed in the past because Pueblo had no say in which projects would be completed. Pueblo County commissioners tell 11 News this deal is different because it allows both sides to decide which projects should be worked on each year.

“I think the commissioners and their legal staff have put together an enforcement as good as you can get; it’s way overdue that both of these communities need to work together on different projects, especially on Fountain Creek and the Fountain drainage area,” said Pueblo resident John Singletary, who supports the projects.

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Human-induced accelerated erosion can increase the rate of erosion by more than 2,000 times that of natural occurring erosion.


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