After two years of negotiations, leaders in Colorado Springs and Pueblo have made a controversial water agreement official.
The agreement guarantees construction of the Southern Delivery System, which is a 43-mile long pipeline. The pipeline will bring water from the Arkansas River to Colorado Springs. It will help the city meet its water needs until 2040. For Pueblo, that means water in the river will have to be kept at a level that will support a kayak course and rafting.
Opponents of the pipeline wanted an environmental impact study before the decision was made, but that would have delayed any decision until 2005. The environmental impact study on the pipeline project is underway, but it will take a year to get the results back.
The deal was made official Monday, as Pueblo City Council president, Randy Thurston, and Colorado Springs Mayor, Lionel Rivera, signed the intergovernmental agreement, or I.G.A. Thurston says, “It's a very exciting moment that we can finally move forward.”
The next step will involve looking into environmental issues. Results of the study are due back next year. The third step will be to make Fountain Creek an asset. “It's been a liability to all of us in southeastern Colorado from day one,” said Thurston. “We need to figure out how we want to handle that."
Both cities will focus on flood control and transportation of sediments down the Fountain River. The I.G.A. also goes beyond water issues. Both cities will watch out for one another. For Pueblo, that means Colorado Springs will support the Legacy Project, as well as Pueblo's interests in the legislature regarding the Mental Health Institute and the state fair.
Construction on the 43-mile pipeline will begin in 2006. It is expected to be complete by 2009, when it can meet the city's water needs well into the future.