Ordinance prohibiting camping within 100 feet of waterways propo - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Ordinance prohibiting camping within 100 feet of waterways proposed in Colorado Springs

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There is a clash of issues happening in Colorado Springs. The debate comes with a proposed ordinance in Colorado Springs that says there can be no camping within 100 feet of a creek bank. "[It] deals specifically with health and safety and I can't say those two words enough," said City Councilman Tom Strand. The other issue is what this means to the homeless who camp along creeks and have limited options for places to stay. “I’m really concerned in the direction that we're going," said Councilwoman Yolanda Avila.

The city's water resource engineering division, is involved in the proposed ordinance. The department is not typically part of homeless debate. Because of flash-flooding that happens in our area they say any kind of camping in or along water ways is a safety issue. The other major issue for them is water quality. There is a pending evaluation that needs to meet federal and state water quality standards. "It's up to us to try and figure out how do we stay under those limits and that's why we need to start addressing all the different sources involved," said City Water Engineering Manager, Richard Mulledy.

Testing shows unacceptable levels of e-coli in the Fountain Creek Watershed. Some of the highest levels are along the urban corridor. That includes some of the areas where homeless camps are common. “What percentage of the contamination did these folks do,” said Councilman Bill Murray. Despite tests showing contamination from both human and animal excrement, some on council say they want more information before putting blame on the homeless. There are studies underway that will give more specific information.

There are also questions whether the proposed ordinance will truly stop the homeless from polluting the waterways. "Are they still going to use the stream for a place to go to the bathroom,” said City Council President, Richard Skorman, “I think they probably will." There were suggestions that possibly providing options like portable bathrooms need to be considered beyond just using enforcement.

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