Pueblo County commissioners intervene in EPA stormwater lawsuit against Colorado Springs

Published: Feb. 8, 2017 at 12:32 PM MST
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Pueblo County commissioners decided to intervene in a federal lawsuit against the city of Colorado Springs.

The lawsuit, filed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) in November 2016, alleges the Springs made "numerous" stormwater violations.

On Thursday both the county and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District were granted motions allowing them to join the lawsuit.

The Board of Pueblo County Commissioners issued a statement on Feb. 8:

The Board of Pueblo County Commissioners have decided to file a motion to intervene in a federal lawsuit against the City of Colorado Springs. The citizens of Pueblo County are perhaps the most directly affected by Colorado Springs Clean Water Act permit violations and the Board of Pueblo County Commissioners believe the County must have a voice in this case.

"We want to make sure that we do the best we can that we protect our citizens and that is our overriding issue," said Pueblo County Commissioner Terry Hart.

The lawsuit claims the city of Colorado Springs made multiple violations of their Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) issued by the CDPHE.

"Our concern is ... not only we have a seat at the table but we continue to evolve this relationship we have with Colorado Springs, particularly the leadership in Colorado Springs. We have a very good working relationship with Colorado Springs we didn't in the past and we value that relationship," said Hart.

Colorado Springs permit violations include the failure to:

· Adequately fund its stormwater management program

· Properly maintain its stormwater facilities

· Reduce the discharge of pollutants to the maximum extent practicable.

These violations have led to increased E. Coli levels several times in excess of the acceptable standard, as well as erosion, sedimentation and increased flooding, all of which have impaired human health, the environment in Pueblo County, and recreational opportunities along Fountain Creek.

By intervening in the lawsuit the Board of Pueblo County Commissioners hopes to:

· Support the EPA and CDPHE in their regulatory mission.

· Ensure that stormwater control infrastructure within Colorado Springs is properly operated and maintained.

· Ensure that there are no conflicts or inconsistencies between the stormwater Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) recently entered by the County and Colorado Springs and any remedy, judgment or settlement entered in this case.

· Require Colorado Springs to become, and then remain, compliant with the Clean Water Act, the Colorado Water Quality Control Act, stormwater regulations and the conditions of Colorado Springs’ MS4 permit, and protect against future violations.

· Work with Colorado Springs to develop, implement and enforce its’ Stormwater Management Program (SMP) as required by the MS4 permit.

· Prohibit Colorado Springs from discharging stormwater that is not in compliance with its MS4 permit or its SMP.

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers posted to Facebook in response to the decision: