Colorado Springs, Colorado reached an agreement to settle an EPA lawsuit over its storm water system
Colorado Springs, Colorado has come to terms with the U.S. EPA and state water quality regulators by agreeing to pay a fine of $2.125 million to settle the lawsuit filed in 2016, which alleged the city violated the Clean Water Act by neglecting its storm water drainage system.
According to the agenda for the City Council's Oct. 27 meeting, there are sufficient funds to pay the fine, reported the Colorado Springs Independent.
"The City Attorney has negotiated a litigation settlement in Case No. 16-CV-02745-JLK that is in excess of $100,000 and that is contingent upon City Council approval of the settlement amount. The lawsuit alleges claims for permit violations against the City of Colorado Springs. The settlement amount is $2,125,000," said the agenda item.
It is unclear how much the city might have agreed to spend for additional storm water improvements however.
According to Mayor John Suthers, any amount the city agrees to pay to further invest in its storm water system will come from the storm water enterprise. That entity is funded by voter-approved storm water fees, which became effective in July 2018, reported the Colorado Springs Independent. The fees can be increased by Council without a vote of the people if necessary to satisfy a regulatory consent decree or judgment.
Fees currently sit at $5 per residence per month and $30 per acre per month for other classes of property.
There is no mention of an allocation in the 2021 budget to settle the lawsuit, according to Suthers told the Indy last month. What the fees cannot cover is any fines imposed as part of a settlement, which would likely come from the city’s reserve fund.
In 2016, the city agreed to spend $460 million on its storm water system over a 30-year period in an agreement with Pueblo County, which reported unbridled flooding in Fountain Creek due to the city's insufficient storm water system.
After voters approved imposing fees, the city shifted general fund money dedicated to the Pueblo agreement to public safety instead, added the Colorado Springs Amendment.