The Pueblo West View

Stormwater: See you in court

ROCKY FORD — A federal decision on the Southern Delivery System is headed to court.

Lower Ark board member Melissa Esquibel. (File, The Pueblo Chieftain)
Lower Ark board member Melissa Esquibel. (File, The Pueblo Chieftain)

The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District is preparing a complaint to file in federal court over the Bureau of Reclamation’s refusal to reopen its record of decision on SDS.

The central issue is the abolishment of the Colorado Springs stormwater enterprise in 2009, which was in place when Reclamation granted approval of a 40-year contract for storage, exchange and connection at Pueblo Dam for SDS.

“I’m asking our board to draft a legal complaint against the Bureau of Reclamation,” said Melissa Esquibel, a Pueblo County board member. “We’ve asked the Bureau of Reclamation to reopen the record of decision, and gotten no action. We need to direct staff to draft a lawsuit.”

Lower Ark board members say SDS should not be allowed to deliver water until the stormwater issue is resolved.

“If there had not been a stormwater enterprise, SDS never would have gotten a 1041 permit,” said Anthony Nunez, a Lower Ark board member who was a Pueblo County commissioner in 2009.

Last year, the Lower Ark district sent letters to Reclamation asking to reopen the record of decision on the stormwater issue. Reclamation declined to take any action.

This will be the second lawsuit the Lower Ark district has filed against Reclamation, if the board approves it at its October meeting.

In 2007, the Lower Ark sued Reclamation over a 40-year storage and exchange contract with Aurora, claiming it illegally allowed the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project to move water out of the Arkansas River basin.

The lawsuit was settled in 2009, after Aurora and the Lower Ark signed an agreement for mitigation of some of the issues surrounding the contract.

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