Tuesday, February 19, 2013

County not waiting for mayor on stormwater

Posted By on Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 5:11 PM

El Paso County Commissioners
  • El Paso County commissioners


El Paso County is moving forward with an exploration of stormwater funding — with or without Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach's support.

Bach has continually interfered with a process to explore the region's stormwater problem and possible solutions, saying he has his own ideas for funding stormwater — namely asking citizen-owned Colorado Springs Utilities to bear the city's $687 million burden.

But experts have long said stormwater is a regional issue, since water doesn't recognize political bounds. And with the Waldo Canyon burn scar exponentially increasing flooding risks in the region, El Paso County apparently isn't waiting for Bach's blessing to pursue solutions. Today it passed a resolution and announced the formation of a steering committee to look at funding options.

El Paso County commissioners approved a resolution this morning stating an intention to work regionally on a solution to stormwater management and flood control. City Council is expected to consider the same resolution soon.

Commissioners made a few changes to the wording of the resolution, which was recommended by the Regional Stormwater Task Force. The resolution originally addressed only "stormwater" and called for an agreement between Colorado Springs and El Paso County.

Commissioners tacked on the words "community partners" in an effort to get smaller communities like Manitou Springs and Monument to consider passing the resolution as well. And they added the words "flood control" to the title, after agreeing that the term "stormwater" had negative connotations (given the city's unpopular past efforts to fund the problem). Commissioners also agreed that the words "flood control" were more informative to citizens.

Commissioner Amy Lathen said the county is also setting up a steering committee to look at funding options. The county has already compiled a list of over 100 names of people who will be asked to participate. It includes interested citizens, and representatives from organizations such as neighborhood groups, the military, school districts, and special districts.

The county plans to allow the committee to choose how it will structure itself in a kick-off meeting next week.

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