Pueblo County wants less talk, more action on stormwater issues

County has mixed feelings about talks with Colorado Springs, El Paso County

Pueblo County Stormwater Frustrations Grow

PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. - A Pueblo County commissioner said county leaders are deciding whether stronger action is needed in the ongoing debate on problems caused by stormwater issues.

Commissioner Terry Hart said he and his two fellow commissioners, who are in their first terms, are growing more frustrated that Colorado Springs and El Paso County have made little progress in controlling excess stormwater that causes flooding, sedimentation and pollution in Fountain Creek.

The creek flows through both counties, and Pueblo County has been critical for years about the lack of solutions.  Hart said the Waldo Canyon Fire has made runoff problems even worse.

Hart praises the Colorado Springs City Council, El Paso County Commissioners and Colorado Springs Utilities -- through formation of a task force -- for their efforts toward solutions.  However, he expressed disappointment that Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach has proposed his own stormwater plan.

"We really need the mayor to be on the same page," said Hart.  "We don't want to get involved in internal politics up there.  We just want to address the stormwater problem as soon as possible."

Hart said he wants his northern neighbors to develop a funding source for stormwater projects, similar to the stormwater enterprise fee that voters repealed several years ago.

"We also want to be able to agree on those projects," he said.  "(Pueblo County wants) to see the list and determine if we think they'll work for us."

Hart said a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey found that a series of retention ponds near the county line could be an effective solution to excess stormwater.

"Our people prefer a dam of some kind," he said.  "But there have been no cost estimates yet."

The utility built part of its Southern Delivery System through Pueblo County to transport water it owns in Pueblo reservoir.  Hart said the county approved a permit for the utility to allow the work, but only under conditions that progress toward reducing stormwater problems would be made.

"They're still not controlling stormwater," he said.

Hart said the next step in the process is for Pueblo County staff to closely analyze the stormwater problems and possible solutions, and make their own suggestions for dealing with the issue.  He said the county will then meet again with other involved parties, and have a better idea of what to do next. 

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