El Paso County and Colorado Springs officials each approved regional stormwater resolutions recently in the spirit of a coordinated approach to drainages spanning governmental boundaries.
The city and the county have disagreed over many issues over the years and there's still the chance that the two can join forces on stormwater.
"We're trying to make sure everyone is at the table," said El Paso County Commissioner Amy Lathen, who has been on the Regional Stormwater Task Force since its inception in mid-2012.
The Board of County Commissioners voted on the resolution Tuesday, passing it by a 3-2 vote. Lathen said Darryl Glenn and Peggy Littleton cast the dissenting votes, noting that they wanted to wait until an Oct. 9 presentation by Mayor Steve Bach and consulting firm CH2M Hill before they gave their OK.
The City Council approved the same resolution 7-1 on Sept. 24. Helen Collins opposed it and council member Andy Pico was absent.
Bach has opposed the resolutions while awaiting the consultant's input.
The commissioners had voted unanimously to approve a resolution in February, but the City Council waited until April after Bach insisted that a private study needed to be done. The mayor also said in February that the decision needed to wait for the new council, which was seated in April.
The outgoing council defied the mayor's request and passed a regional stormwater resolution as one of its last actions. Scott Hente, the outgoing council president, said after the April 9 vote, "Stormwater is not politics. Stormwater is floods coming into your home. This is something that's important to the community," he said.
Lathen echoed Hente's statement Wednesday when asked why the city and county needed to pass the recent resolutions after both government bodies had already voted in the joint effort. The commissioner stressed that this time, City Council and the BOCC each endorsed the same plan.
"This one is the same resolution signed by both bodies, and we're excited about that," Lathen said.
Bach announced the Oct. 9 meeting this week. CH2M Hill will make its presentation, the mayor will also present his proposal on the region's stormwater needs and Council President Keith King will share his findings. The meeting will be held at the City Administration Building in downtown Colorado Springs from 1 to 2 p.m.
Lathen said the county also hired CH2M Hill to conduct a study beyond the Colorado Springs boundary. Results from that study will be out sometime in the next couple of weeks, she said. The BOCC will join the city for a town hall meeting to share the findings. The town hall has not yet been scheduled.
"There may be a project outside the city limits that will benefit the city greatly," she said, noting that channels from all reaches of the county pour into the Fountain Creek watershed, which she called the "trunk" of a much bigger tree.
The commissioner said the task force has looked at models from other regional stormwater collaboration efforts, including those in the Denver area, which began in the 1960s when the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District was formed.
According to Lathen, who is accompanied on the task force by commissioner Dennis Hisey, residents in the county and the city will get a chance to vote on the regional efforts "if there's any kind of new revenue."
A citizens' team has been a part of the Regional Stormwater Task Force since its inception in the summer of 2012.
"Citizen involvement is key," Lathen said. "Nobody is going to do anything without citizen involvement."