Two-county IGA sets stage for Fountain Creek Watershed district
The Westside will be part of a new Fountain Creek watershed district that encompasses much of El Paso and Pueblo counties. But exactly what that will mean, in
terms of amenities or responsibilities, is yet to be determined.
The plan, which has been in discussion for two years, was approved over the past week by El Paso and Pueblo County commissioners, who signed an Intergov- ernmental Agreement (IGA) “demonstrating their ongoing cooperative efforts to make major improvements to Fountain Creek,” an IGA press release states.
“The agreement will create a Fountain Creek Watershed governing board, responsible for managing projects to control flooding, improve water quality and create recreational facilities along the creek,” the release continues. “It is the first step in creating a special district to oversee and make improvements along the Fountain Creek corridor from its origin in El Paso County to its confluence with the Arkansas River east of Pueblo.”
One of the leaders of the effort has been Westsider/El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark, who helped start the Fountain Creek Vision Task Force that developed the IGA framework. She said the district with its governing board (once they are set up through legislation) “could be a recipient of other funding from agencies, non-profits (Greenway Foundation) or donations immediately.” However, the board would have no taxing authority unless voters approved it at a later date.
As for the board establishing an enterprise that could be funded by fees and not need voter approval (such as the city's Stormwater Enterprise), that is “not likely at all,” Clark said.
The watershed takes in all areas affected by Fountain Creek.
The Vision Task Force is “a broad coalition representing local governments and other stakeholder interests throughout the Fountain Creek Water-shed,” the press release states.
The plan has been especially important by Pueblo officials, who claim their town has suffered excessive Fountain Creek flooding due to development upstream over the years.
Another push has come from Colorado Senator Ken Salazar, who has promoted Fountain Creek as a “crown jewel” that needs Colorado Springs-Pueblo cooperation to reach its potential. In a separate press release, he lauded the IGA as a step in that direction.
The new entity's full name is to be the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District.
Once ratified by other eligible entities, the district's board will potentially have nine members - four each from El Paso and Pueblo counties and a ninth member from the Citizens Advisory Group of the Vision Task Force.
For more details on the Fountain Creek Vision Task Force, there is a website: www.fountain-crk.org.
Westside Pioneer/press release