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Drainage issues have led to legal action and also a settlement by the city.

The city of Colorado Springs posted a request for proposals (RFP) on June 3 for Flying Horse Pond 1 Retrofit, a detention pond noted as a potential violation of the Clean Water Act in the lawsuit filed by the Environmental Protection Agency against the city in 2016.

Deadline for proposals is July 8.

The EPA lawsuit has since been settled, and the city is expected to pay up to $45 million for additional projects to satisfy the EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. City Council raised stormwater rates, which kick in on July 1, to fund the settlement.

The scope of work for the Flying Horse pond is stated this way in the RFP: “Reconstruct existing detention pond with new concrete facilities that include sediment forebays and outlet structure. Construct soil rip rap trickle channels and overflow spillway, maintenance/access roads, MSE retaining walls, boulder lined permanent aesthetic pond and extensive riparian and upland plantings.”

During a 2013 audit of the city’s stormwater system, federal regulators identified the pond as one of “at least two water quality control structures that had been placed in State waters at the Flying Horse Pond Filing 26 and the First and Main Town Center developments. Neither of these developments provided for treatment of stormwater prior to the discharge into State waters,” the EPA lawsuit says.

But how much is this project costing and who’s paying for it?

Stormwater manager Rich Mulledy says via email that this pond project cited in the RFP is, indeed, the same pond referenced in the lawsuit.

The budget for the project is $2,541,419, he says. Design will cost $284,878 and the construction costs are estimated at $2,256,541.

But the city’s Stormwater Enterprise will pay for only the design. Construction is being picked up by a grant the city received, he says.

“The developer is not responsible to contribute for several reasons,” Mulledy says.

“First, the City reviewed and accepted the facility as designed and constructed when it was built. The City believed then and believes now that the facility was designed and constructed correctly and in compliance with our criteria at the time,” he says.

Mulledy emphasizes that the pond issue wasn’t ever ruled upon by the court as to whether it, in fact, was a water quality regulation violation.

The city settled the case before that happened.

Mulledy continued, “The main reasons we are reconstructing the facility are to make it easier to maintain and to eliminate any potential water rights issues with the permanent pool of water. We are also redesigning the facility to accept future flows from the Powers Blvd. extension.” 

Stormwater fees generate $16 million to $17 million a year, which will grow by several million dollars through the rate hike set by a Feb. 23 City Council vote that takes effect next month.

Residential rates will rise to $7 this year, $7.50 next year and $8 in 2023, a cumulative increase of 60 percent. Non-residential rates will increase to $40.50 per acre this year, $43 in 2022 and $45 in 2023, an overall hike of 50 percent. 

Senior Reporter

Pam Zubeck is a graduate from Emporia State University. She worked at the Tulsa Tribune before coming to Colorado Springs, where she spent 16 years at the Gazette and in 2009 joined Colorado Publishing House.