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Neighbors in El Paso County community concerned over new development's effect on water supply

The Banning Lewis Ranch North development could bring nearly 3000 new homes off Woodmen Road
Neighbors in El Paso County community concerned over new development's affect on water supply
Posted at 7:07 PM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 21:52:04-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — Neighbors in one El Paso County community are wondering, with almost 3000 new neighbors coming, will there be any water left for them?

Residents in the neighborhood off Mohawk Drive and Woodmen Road made their voices loud and clear in their public comments submitted to the city as leaders considered approving the nearly 3000 home Banning Lewis Ranch north development last month.

One nearby resident said they were “disappointed” to hear the news of the development.

News 5 stopped by their house on Wednesday, and while they didn’t want to speak on camera, they drew our attention to one paragraph of their response in particular.

“First is the water situation,’ they wrote.

They said they were concerned, because they depend on a well drawing nearby groundwater. They said they worried the new development could take away from their water source.

“We’re definitely alway kind of looking at what the future holds,” said Patrick Wells, General Manager for Water Resources and Demand Management at Colorado Springs Utilities.

News 5 took him the questions of that resident, as well as several others nearby.

“Is there going to be enough water for all of us,” one rsident asked.

“Nearly all of our water is surface-based supplies,” Wells said.

In short, he says there will be plenty of water to go around.

“About 40 or 50 percent of our supply comes from the Colorado River basin, so from remote watersheds along the continental divide,” he said.

The rest comes from a mix of other above-ground sources. Although, Wells said when the city annexes land, it does gain rights to the surrounding groundwater.

“We use that for very limited purposes,” Wells said.

That leads to another question.

“Will we be forced to go on city water someday,” one resident asked in their response.

“”It’s a complex question that I think we’re all trying to wrestle with,” Wells said.

That’s because, simply put, that groundwater is running dry.

“Specifically Denver-basin groundwater, which is the mainsource for aquifer water up there,” he said.

When that runs out, it may make sense for residents like this one to join up with city water.

“I think as a region we’re always trying to keep them in mind,” he said.

Wells said as new developments continue to go up the city is trying to make sure those developers build things in a way that use less water.

As for the possibility of Colorado Springs Utilities tapping into the groundwater they hold rights to, he says that would account for maybe one percent of the city’s total water supply--if they ever even tap into it at all.