Photo credit: Hammacher.com
While we were busy over the holidays celebrating with family and friends, something interesting happened. On December 19th, the Colorado Springs City Council voted in favor of new watering restrictions.
Huh? What happened? We’re not in a drought.
We’re scratching our heads wondering what the heck is going on. A Colorado Springs Independent article in 2018 indicated that water was so plentiful we were selling it. A subsequent Indy article in 2019 reinforced that the water sales were still in place, and provided sample contracts. If Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) has so much water that it can sell surplus water outside the City, then how could ratepayers possibly be subject to watering restrictions?
A reasonable conclusion for the watering restrictions is that the Banning Lewis Ranch (BLR) Annexation and other new developments are going to hit the water supply hard. Ratepayers will likely pay a hefty price for water and face restrictions from here on out. In the BLR Annexation Agreement, Section C2 details CSU’s responsibility for, “…the construction of centralized water and wastewater treatment facilities needed to serve the property.” This will be needed to serve the estimated 62,000 eventual residents of the area. So, here’s a question: What part of BLR’s new infrastructure needs should be paid for by the developer vs. being paid by the CSU ratepayers? It’s a fair question.
Ratepayers have continued to pay steadily increasing rates since the 2018 Banning Lewis decision. Here is the timeline over the past five years:
2016– 4.5% increase
2017– 1.4% increase
2018– 5.1% increase
2019– 5.8% increase
2020– 7.5% increase
While we had a whole host of concerns at the time of the BLR annexation, such as police, fire, roads, and other infrastructure, maybe our biggest worry should have been water.
So, which of these two scenarios is it?
If there isn’t enough water to go around, why is the City allowing expansive development that will require precious water resources?
If there is such a surplus that CSU is selling water, why are rates going up?
As with many other City actions, we suspect the prospect of more revenue filling City coffers must just be too exciting to pass up.
In Colorado Springs, we are all dealing with traffic congestion, empty bike lanes that narrow our roads, an uptick in crime, and unrepaired potholes. Meanwhile, we’ve now got to start Googling the term “xeriscape” and consider spending money on landscaping that replaces our lawns. Do you remember being asked if this is what you want for your yard?
The Gazette is hosting a forum Wednesday, January 29, at 6:00 p.m. It’s called “Responsible Growth of Colorado Springs” and will be at the Pikes Peak Center at 190 S. Cascade Ave. If you are as concerned as we are about the future of water usage in Colorado Springs, please show up and be part of the conversation. We’ve moved water to one of our top concerns.
We’ll keep looking out for you, Colorado Springs, and will be tracking the water stories and sharing updates as they arise.