by Pam Zubeck
Pueblo District Attorney Bill Thiebaut isn't taking the loss of a water decision lying down.
According to The Pueblo Chieftain, he's appealing the Colorado Water Quality Control Division's issuance of a water quality certification permit under the Clean Water Act for the Southern Delivery System.
SDS is Colorado Springs Utilities' water pipeline project that will bring water from Pueblo Reservoir. Construction already is under way.
From the Chieftain:
The appeal claims the SDS, a 40-mile long series of pipes and pumps that will carry water from the Arkansas River and deliver it to Colorado Springs and points north, will adversely impact the water quality and water flows in the Arkansas River as well as Fountain and Wild Horse creeks in Pueblo County.
It also claims the approval of the certificate by the Water Quality Control Division and its commission failed to comply with public notice requirements and anti-degradation requirements.
The division's certificate and the commission's affirmation of the permit" was not based on a reliable scientific or quantitative methodology or competent evidence," the suit stated.
"Instead, the SDS 401 certification was based on a ‘gut feeling’ that the impacts would be mitigated,’ ’’ the suit claims.
Springs Utilities says the permit was thoroughly researched. Utilities spokeswoman Janet Rummel also says the appeal shouldn't slow the project down. Here's her statement in full:
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment's (CDPHE) Water Quality Control Division issued a 401 water quality certification for the Southern Delivery System in April 2010 after conducting a thorough review. The 401 certification was a prerequisite to the 404 permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers.
The Rocky Mountain Environmental Labor Coalition and Pueblo County District Attorney, Bill Thiebaut, appealed the CDPHE 401 certification for SDS. Following extensive review, including testimony from experts at a hearing in December 2010, the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission voted unanimously on January 10, 2011 to uphold the SDS 401 Certification issued by the Water Quality Control Division.
The water quality issues raised have been thoroughly evaluated and addressed during exhaustive environmental reviews of the SDS project by numerous agencies — including the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Pueblo County.
We do not believe the 401 certification appeal puts the SDS project at risk. There are extensive mitigation requirements for the project already in place that fully address the issues raised.