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SDS cancellation sought



Stormwater funding may affect whether the Southern Delivery System pipeline project from Pueblo Reservoir is used once it's built in 2016.

Earlier this month, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation commissioner Mike Connor told the Pueblo Chieftain's editorial board that the bureau's contract with the city of Colorado Springs is reliant on stormwater funding.

The city abolished its Stormwater Enterprise after a 2009 election in which voters adopted a measure aimed at overturning the enterprise, which provided roughly $15 million annually for drainage projects. The city has allocated little to flood control since, and Mayor Steve Bach has demanded that Springs Utilities carve out up to $19 million annually for it. Problem is, Utilities is rate-supported, and whether it's legal for it to simply divert money from electric, gas, water and wastewater to fund stormwater remains unclear.

Meantime, the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, a stakeholder in the Frying Pan-Arkansas River project that built Pueblo Reservoir, recently wrote to the bureau calling for the SDS contract to be cancelled due to the city's lack of stormwater funding.

The Chieftain quoted Connor as saying, "If they don't comply, they will have expended resources for something they're not going to use."

The district did not release the letter, and its director could not be reached for comment. Bureau spokesperson Kara Lamb didn't return a phone message by press time.

Utilities spokeswoman Janet Rummel says the city complies with its permits and notes the final Environmental Impact Statement stated the Stormwater Enterprise "has purposes that are independent of the SDS project and is not considered a mitigation measure."

She also notes efforts are ongoing for sediment removal and wetlands creation, among others.

Officials from throughout this area were scheduled to meet Tuesday to talk about stormwater control needs and possible solutions.

The letters from the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District:

Mike Conner

Bureau of Reclamation

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