COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — There was a passionate debate at the Colorado Springs City Council meeting Tuesday over planning for growth while also ensuring the future of the local water supply.
The ongoing drought in the west motivated a request from Colorado Springs Utilities for an update to city ordinances on annexing new developments into the city.
With five in favor and four against, City Council approved the change saying for any development annexations to be considered, the city's water supply has to be at 130% of what is needed for existing residents.
Mayor John Suthers supported the change saying tough decisions are being forced by the current water crisis along the Colorado River Basin.
"Our citizens are asking a simple question, 'Can you ensure we’ll have enough water?' This ordinance acts in the public interest and answers that question loud and clear," said Suthers.
There were several hours of citizen comments before the council vote.
Many developers from the community spoke against the change saying it will make large developments outside the city almost impossible.
Suthers Tweeted, "If we do nothing to maintain a buffer between our water supply and our water usage, and the city suffers a major curtailment of our Colorado River water, further drought will put us in an untenable situation, and we will be responsible for a failure of public policy."
Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) recommended the 130% number following an in-depth review of the organization's capacity and ability to provide water to the city's citizens.
Utilities maintain that the city's 30% margin buffer allows CSU to consistently provide water year in and year out.
It was repeatedly pointed out that the ordinance can be modified by future city councils as water supply status improves or degrades.
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