November 5, 2014

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+ Fountain Creek Improvements


+ Fountain Creek Improvement Project Animated Video


SDS website

Our Commitment to Stormwater Management

While the defeat of the El Paso County stormwater funding issue 1B is disappointing to the many entities that worked so hard in support of the citizen’s task force to develop a sustainable funding solution for regional flood control, Colorado Springs Utilities remains committed to doing our part.  Our staff will continue to work with representatives from the City of Colorado Springs, El Paso County and others in the watershed to address stormwater infrastructure needs.


To protect the investments made by our customers and avoid future risk to our operations, it is imperative that this issue is addressed, and Colorado Springs Utilities will continue to push for immediate solutions in our community.


SDS and Fountain Creek
As part of our operations, Colorado Springs Utilities has been actively involved in addressing stormwater issues and has already invested a significant amount of money in stormwater management.  We are among the top financial contributors of improvements to Fountain Creek of all the entities in the watershed. Colorado Springs Utilities has invested more than $100 million to repair and protect utility infrastructure from stormwater damage and flooding. This is on top of the investment committed through SDS mitigation.


To date, as a direct result of the Southern Delivery System (SDS) project, Colorado Springs Utilities has already committed to spending more than $131 million dollars to mitigate flooding and improve water quality on Fountain Creek. This includes:

• $50 million scheduled to be paid to the Fountain Creek District to “mitigate the impacts of SDS to Fountain Creek in Pueblo County” -- $600,000 paid to date and the remaining funds will be paid in annual increments of $10 million (plus interest payments) after SDS begins delivering water.
• $75 million in wastewater system improvements to protect against spills into Fountain Creek and to mitigate potential water quality impacts of SDS ($26.6 million spent to date), remaining amount by 2024.
• $2.2 million paid in 2011 to Pueblo County to use for dredging in Fountain Creek to increase the levee capacity in Pueblo (specific projects to be determined by Pueblo County).
• $300,000 in aquatic research through the Colorado Parks and Wildlife
• $4.2 million spent on Fountain Creek Improvement Project (completed and operating). See video.


Additionally, SDS staff has been working closely with the Fountain Creek District, agricultural interests in the lower Arkansas Valley, as well as representatives from El Paso County, Pueblo County and others to assess the feasibility of specific flood control projects on Fountain Creek that were identified in a U.S. Geological Survey study. Colorado Springs Utilities, the SDS project partners and other regional water entities have helped fund an effort to balance flood control solutions with protecting the water rights of downstream interests. These efforts – done in advance of the SDS mitigation money being released – will put the District that much closer to designing and constructing Fountain Creek improvements once that funding is received.  A recent Pueblo Chieftain editorial United for Fountain Creek called for cooperation of all entities in the watershed to advance these efforts.


Stormwater and the 1041 Permit
SDS remains in compliance with its SDS permits. The Pueblo County SDS 1041 permit requirement for stormwater relates to future, new development (homes/businesses) that SDS will serve once operational. Condition 23 of the 1041 permit requires, “The Applicant shall maintain stormwater controls and other regulations intended to ensure that Fountain Creek peak flows resulting from new development served by the SDS project within the Fountain Creek basin are no greater than existing conditions….”


The revised Colorado Springs Drainage Criteria Manual completed in 2014 meets the Condition 23 requirement. This comprehensive update (an investment of more than $1 million) requires all new development projects to use state-of-the-art stormwater control practices to limit run-off to pre-development conditions.


With more than $131 million worth of mitigation funding for Fountain Creek as a direct result of SDS, more beneficial projects on Fountain Creek are anticipated in the decades ahead that will have additional flood control, erosion and sedimentation benefits.


In addition to our SDS commitments, Colorado Springs Utilities will remain vigilant in working to support a sustainable solution to fund stormwater infrastructure in our community.


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