Fountain Creek flooding must be controlled before the Southern Delivery System is turned on.
Pueblo County Commissioners heard that response Thursday from Jay Winner, manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, at a work session in advance of next week’s meeting on SDS.
“As a good neighbor, Colorado Springs should agree not to turn on SDS until its stormwater issue is taken care of,” Winner said.
During negotiations with the Lower Ark district beginning in 2004, Colorado Springs Utilities had “guaranteed” Fountain Creek would be protected, Winner said. He urged the commissioners to enforce those protections as part of its review of 1041 permit conditions.
The commissioners will have a public meeting at 10 a.m. Sept. 20 on the 1041 permit conditions. Stormwater is one of the most important, said Terry Hart, chairman of the commissioners.
Commissioners heard a presentation from Lower Ark water attorney Peter Nichols that showed how flows, sediment and E. coli levels on Fountain Creek have increased since Colorado Springs City Council abolished the stormwater enterprise in 2009.
The analysis was based on U.S. Geological Survey sampling and reports submitted to the Colorado Water Quality Control Division by Colorado Springs.
E. coli levels remain at levels many times higher than state and national standards, particularly during storm events that bring in contamination from the banks of the creek.
Nichols pointed out that the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Colorado Springs a D-minus rating last year on stormwater control. In the report, the ASCE pointed out deficiencies in stormwater funding, capacity, public safety, resilience, drainage and maintenance.
“It’s not just us,” he said.
In granting a contract for SDS to take water from Pueblo Dam to El Paso County, the Bureau of Reclamation relied on the stormwater enterprise as a way to deal with increased Fountain Creek flows, Nichols added.
Colorado Springs disputes the Lower Ark’s conclusions.
“They didn’t use all of the available data points,” said Mark Pifher, permit manager for SDS. “When you analyze all of the data, those trends do not exist. We’ll have more to say on Sept. 20.”
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