Council approval of regional stormwater an important step



The departing City Council
  • City Council, as it looks today.

On Tuesday, the soon-to-be-overhauled City Council approved a resolution to support a regional approach to stormwater management on a 6-2 vote.

In the past, such a move may have been considered little more than ceremonial — most experts have long agreed that stormwater is best approached regionally. But Mayor Steve Bach has lately turned the issue into a political football.

Much like other issues that have arisen in his term — from ambulance contracts to Waldo Canyon Fire response — Bach says he wants to deal with stormwater on his own, shunning regional cooperation. (Or even cooperation from the Council.)

Many believe the mayor is afraid that a regional approach will suggest a new tax to solve the area's dangerous backlog of needed infrastructure projects, estimated to exceed $900 million. The mayor signed a pledge saying he would oppose any new tax, no matter how vital.

But Bach's long reach may not be able to control this process. With assistance from El Paso County, a Regional Stormwater Steering Committee, made up of dozens of citizen volunteers, is already studying how best to approach the problem. Once they make a recommendation, El Paso County Commissioners may refer the issue (which would likely recommend a governance structure for stormwater management and a funding mechanism or tax) to the ballot, without the mayor's consent. The support of the City Council should help the cause.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the new Council will be as keen on working regionally as the current one.

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