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OUR VIEW: Politicians promise to hurt the Springs (vote here)

By: Wayne Laugesen
March 24, 2011
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If you want to kill Colorado Springs and choke off prosperity, just do something to prevent additional water from flowing into the community. Doug Griffiths’ book “13 Ways to Kill Your Community” starts off with “fail to provide quality water.” It’s common sense.

It’s hard to find a bigger and more consistent voice for limited government than The Gazette’s editorial board, which whole-heartedly supports completion of the Southern Delivery System (SDS). We want government to let people lead their lives in peace, but we also want government to provide fundamental infrastructure. SDS is the definition of fundamental infrastructure and the essence of an appropriate public works project.

Any questions that remained about the social and economic value of SDS disappeared this week with the release of an independent economic report commissioned by the Center for Regional Advancement. Summit Economics LLC conducted the study.

The study found that Colorado Springs will need additional water by 2016. Without SDS, the city’s aging pipelines — combined with Western drought conditions and demand for Colorado River water — jeopardize the community’s water needs in the near future.

“Uncertainty over water keeps employers from expanding or locating operations here, and as children grow up and need jobs, they have to leave the area to find them,” said Martin Wood, chair of the Board of Directors of the Center for Regional Advancement.

The study found that SDS will cost ratepayers considerably less than other major pipeline projects in the city’s past, when adjusted for inflation. The study found that without SDS, El Paso County would experience 36 percent less job growth by 2050. The loss of good new high-paying jobs would begin soon.

The loss of new jobs, and the corresponding loss of prosperity, would cost Colorado Springs at least $866 million by the year 2020. That’s less than nine years from today, and roughly the cost of building the first phase of SDS — a project that will help create new jobs for decades to come.

But it gets worse. If SDS were not completed, water rates would likely increase higher than they would to pay for the project. If that sounds odd, it should not. Without SDS, water will become scarce in Colorado Springs. That means demand will exceed supply. Anyone who took a junior high economics class knows that demand in excess of supply results higher prices. We would have an easier time reversing gravity than undoing the law of supply and demand.

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“It can be argued that water rates would actually increase more without SDS than with SDS,” the report states.

Of course they would. Do not let doom-speaking politicians sell you a bill of goods when seeking your vote. SDS will quickly bring liquidity to Colorado Springs, in the form of water and wealth. Efforts to stop this project should be viewed as penny-wise and pound-foolish. It would almost certainly cost ratepayers more — in the form of higher rates — if they failed to build SDS. It would also impoverish Colorado Springs today and far into the future.

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