Is Colorado Springs the new Babylon?


"Is Phoenix the new Babylon?" resonates in Colorado Springs (HCN, 11/28/11).  Colorado Springs Utilities, a city-owned full-service utility -- gas, sewer, electricity and water -- has committed $2.1 billion to build a pipeline to bring water to the city from Pueblo Reservoir, a project known as the Southern Delivery System. That amount does not include a possible additional cost of as much as $2 billion for a reservoir and distribution system.

As in Maricopa County, Ariz., the cost of the project was justified as necessary to provide water to 175,000 new residents who were to live in Banning-Lewis Ranch, a huge development planned for the east side of the city by a California company. That company is bankrupt, and the Banning-Lewis Ranch has been purchased by an oil company. No more homes will be built there -- ever.

The utility is now trying to justify tripling its water rates to pay for the bonds to fund the delivery system on different grounds. It asserts that the system will provide needed redundancy for the existing population. Maybe the utility will be able to sell some of the water to other Front Range communities. In the meantime, generations of residents in Colorado Springs will pay an exorbitant price for this excess water capacity based on faulty population-growth projections.

Philip Neal
Colorado Springs, Colorado

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