In May, “The New Falcon Herald” began a two-part series on population growth and the effects on the infrastructure. The first part focused on the larger water, wastewater and electricity service supplier — Colorado Springs Utilities.|
This month, the series focuses on the four main special districts that provide water and wastewater services in the eastern El Paso County area and Mountain View Electric Association, the electric utility supplier for the area.
Paint Brush Hills Metropolitan District
Leon Gomes, district manager for Paint Brush Hills Metropolitan District, said the growth in the PBH subdivision has been planned from the beginning of the development. “The boundaries of the district are set,” he said. “There are 200 acres of yet-to-be development property within the district’s boundaries.”
However, Gomes said based on an inclusion agreement portion of the district’s property done in 2008 and amended in 2012, any developer looking to build on that land would need to bring a water source to the district and not rely on PBHMD’s supplies.
“All 200 acres could be developed, but water would need to be provided and it would not affect the sources we currently have,” he said.
According to the district’s Source Water Protection Plan on the website, PBHMD obtains its drinking water from 11 groundwater wells that tap into the Laramie Fox-Hills and Arapahoe aquifers. Gomes said those sources are finite sources and when they might run out is an “engineer’s estimate at best.”
The district has considered ways to recharge those aquifers by pumping water back into them for storage during times of low water usage, he said.
“We can store that water in an aquifer; we would pump it into the aquifer, account for it; and, if we actually need to use it, we can,” Gomes said. “That would subsidize the amount of water we already know is underground.”
To get additional water beyond what the district has the legal right to obtain, Gomes said the possibility of connecting with Colorado Springs Utilities is not out of the question, although there are no current or future discussions on that option. The cost to build the infrastructure necessary to connect to CSU would be high, and Gomes said ideally, if that should come to pass, the other special districts in Falcon would coordinate to make it work for everyone.
As for water conservation, Gomes said he plans to bring some new ideas before the PBHMD board of directors next January, when they will not be pressured to make a hasty decision.
“I can only make recommendations and think these things through in advance,” he said. “I do not want to put the backs of my board members against the wall in being forced to make a decision, so we want to plan ahead and make sure we have a well-thought-out solution to anything that comes before the board.”
Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District
According to the Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District’s “Water Supply and Outlook Summary” from November 2018, conducted by JDS-Hydro Consultants Inc., and found on the district’s website, “Woodmen Hills Water Supply could be rated good but not great. The primary deficiency is the reliance on Denver Basin (aquifer) supplies which ultimately requires additional supplementation and gradual replacement over time.”
The summary also stated that a benefit to the district is that its system creates a potential for aquifer storage and recovery to make use of available space in the Arapahoe aquifer in the Falcon area.
Representatives from WHMD declined the NFH’s request for an interview but sent a statement via email from Jerry Jacobson, general manager: “Woodmen Hills has a substantial supply of water for our residents now and into the future.”
Falcon Highlands Metropolitan District
The NFH repeatedly tried to contact a representative from the Falcon Highlands Metropolitan District for an interview; no one returned the calls.
Meridian Service Metropolitan District
The NFH repeatedly tried to contact a representative from the Meridian Service Metropolitan District, and no one returned calls.
Mountain View Electric
Sarah Schaefer, communications supervisor and public information officer with MVEA, said the association recognizes the tremendous growth in the county, and is investigating their existing system conditions and working on plans to meet the demand over the next 20 years.
“We have dynamic plans to meet the needs of our membership and growing service territory,” Schaefer said. Those plans include continued use of a growing supply of non-emissions generating power sources, like solar power, she said. Additionally, MVEA maintains a fleet of high-performing coal and natural gas sources, and has plans to construct additional power substations, Schaefer said.
As one of several electric cooperatives that participates in and purchases power from the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc., in Westminster, Colorado, the electricity MVEA supplies is affordable and responsible, she said.
“Having them behind us also helps us provide reliable service,” Schaefer said.
According to the Tri-State website, “Our family of not-for-profit electric cooperative and public power districts, leverages our combined resources and knowledge — giving us the stability we need to succeed when it counts for you. By working together, we also have a stronger voice and are able to adapt to a changing marketplace.”
Schaefer said MVEA has planned for 5 percent growth annually for the next 20 years, which is greater than the average growth rate, so they are situated in a way to accommodate any new service areas.
“The growth out here has been phenomenal, but we are on top of it, thankfully.”
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On June 4, the El Paso County Planning Commission unanimously approved three requests by McCune Ranch LLC, to rezone two portions of the 766.66-acre property, along with the preliminary plan for the Winsome subdivision, formerly known as the McCune Ranch. The property is located at the northwest corner of the Hodgen Road and Meridian Road intersection and is included in the Black Forest Preservation Plan.|
One rezoning request seeks to change 7.88 acres from residential rural-5 to a commercial community zoning district. The other seeks to change 350.26 acres from RR-5 and agricultural-35 zoning to RR-2.5.
The preliminary plan will create 143 single-family residential lots with an overall density of one dwelling unit per 5 acres for the entire property, one commercial lot of 4.36 acres, 151.238 acres of open space, drainage tracts and rights-of-way. In all, the property will consist of 7.88 acres of commercial community zoning, 350.26 acres of RR-2.5 zoning and 408.52 acres of RR-5 zoning.
During the meeting, concerns were raised about traffic, water sufficiency and the creation of a Title 32 special district that has not yet been approved. Andrea Barlow, principal planner with N.E.S. Inc., addressed each concern, and said the traffic assessment already completed indicates that traffic levels are low and blind hills and sight access have both been considered during placement of intersections and emergency access points. “All traffic requirements have been met,” she said.
Regarding water sufficiency and the creation of a special district, Barlow said sufficiency has been established in the Dawson aquifer, and plans for the development are moving forward on the assumption that the future special district will be approved.
The planning commission approved the preliminary plan, although sufficiency for water quality, quantity and dependability has not been finalized. The BOCC will consider water sufficiency when they receive the final plat for approval.
All three requests were forwarded to the EPC Board of County Commissioners for approval on June 24; the board continued the matter until July 9.