STORMWATER PROJECT
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FILE - Mayor John Suthers is pictured at the construction site for the water quality pond at Woodmen Road and Sand Creek, which is the first project funded as part of $19 million a year the City has committed to spend on stormwater, on Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette)

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Colorado Springs and the four parties suing the city now have an extra month to either settle a longstanding lawsuit over federal stormwater permit violations or agree how to continue the case in court.

U.S. District Judge Richard P. Matsch in December ordered the case paused until this month so the parties could find common ground. The lawsuit was to restart last week, but Matsch extended the break by more than a month.

Now the parties have until April 12 to agree on next steps, or the case goes back to court.

The request for a break in the case came from the plaintiffs — the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Pueblo County and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District — after Matsch ruled that Colorado Springs violated federal stormwater regulations at three development sites.

That ruling potentially exposes the city to hundreds of millions of dollars in civil penalties, some councilmen have said. Mayor John Suthers recently said hefty fines would be counterproductive because the city has shown a clear desire to improve its stormwater program.

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