As the economy recovers and development continues in northeastern El Paso County, water sufficiency issues are high priority. On Aug. 8, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners approved a contract with Forsgren Associates Inc. for the development of a water master plan for the county.|
Mark Waller, District 2 representative on the BOCC, said the study is vital because the development boom in unincorporated areas of the county requires an investigation of the capacity of water resources available, along with a long-term plan for managing the resources.
“We have a responsibility to future generations to make sure we are being good stewards of the resources we have right now,” Waller said. “Part of that means making a plan of the resources we have so they are protected.”
In areas like Falcon, Waller said several water districts service the community, and the water they use is subsurface aquifer water. “This master plan will help us figure out what is in the aquifers, who has rights to the water and how development is affecting it,” he said.
According to the Colorado Foundation for Water Education website, the Denver Basin aquifer system is a major source of water for an area of about 6,700 surface miles, including the Falcon area. “It includes four aquifers: the Dawson, Denver, Arapahoe, and Laramie-Fox Hills,” the website states. “Each aquifer has different water quality, depths and water availability.”
Leon Gomes, district manager of Paint Brush Hills Metropolitan District, said his district has wells in the Denver, Arapahoe and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers. The board of directors accepted a water use master plan for the district in 2015 to determine the legal and physical water supply.
“The legal supply is what we have water rights to and the physical supply is what we can actually deliver to our customers and store in tanks,” Gomes said. “The result of that water use master plan was that we determined our full water supply to be 1,010-acre-feet per year.”
An additional 616 homes have been approved for construction within the Paint Brush Hills district, which puts the total demand at 590-acre-feet per year (more than half the total capacity), Gomes said. To service those homes, the developer will provide three additional wells to the district, he said.
“We are making sure we are managing our existing supply so we are not overtaxing any of our wells,” Gomes said. “We all know it (water) is a finite resource and we have to be mindful of that.”
Jim McGrady, owner of McGrady Associates and former district manager for the Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District, said water is a finite resource because the Denver Basin aquifer system is non-tributary or non-renewable.
McGrady said when he was hired at WHMD around the beginning of May, it became obvious that the district’s wells were producing an alarmingly small amount of water, compared to what they should have been producing.
“One of the wells was pumping 25 gallons per minute out of the Arapahoe aquifer,” he said. “That number is extremely low.”
McGrady said WHMD has a contract with Cherokee Metropolitan District to obtain 89-acre-feet of water per year from the Upper Black Squirrel alluvial aquifer, putting their total water supply at about 951-acre-feet per year. However, the current demand on that supply is in the 820-850-acre feet per year range, he said.
With no end in sight to construction in the area, McGrady said he was concerned about the district’s ability to service the additional houses. “I wanted to solve a problem that I know exists,” he said. “I took the job with that expectation and started digging into what was actually going on out in Woodmen Hills with their water supply. It became obvious that they needed more water.”
However, after about two months with WHMD, McGrady resigned. “Looking back at it, I think I was starting to make people nervous,” he said. “The board of directors did not want to hear someone say their water situation was not as good as they thought it was. There are a lot of things they need to be doing, and doing the same old thing is not an option.”
McGrady said the district has no long-term plan on how to ensure its water supply. The best option the WHMD has devised is to drill more wells into the Denver Basin aquifer system, but McGrady said that cannot be the only option. As developments were constructed outside of the city limits, developers starting drilling wells into the aquifer system because it was the cheapest, fastest source of water, he said.
“But over time, that supply goes down,” he said. “You could use the Denver Basin aquifer (system) as a bridge to the future, but that is all that system should be. It is not meant to be a single source of water. It is supposed to tide you over until you find a renewable source.”
Josh Killet, WHMD board president, said the district’s water resource plan is constantly evolving to reflect the changing market. It comprises the several avenues of supplementation the district is exploring at any given time; therefore, it does not exist in the form of a single document, Killet said.
“Currently, approximately 50 percent of Woodmen Hills’ water comes from renewable sources,” Killet said. “We are constantly looking for new sources and working on new deals to supplement our existing supply.”
McGrady said he wanted to help build a resource plan for the district to outline how much longer the water supply will last, along with determining other sources for water. Ideally, McGrady said he would have hired a hydrogeologist to examine the wells to get that information. “It is not a matter of if the Denver Basin aquifer system is going to become a liability, it is when,” he said.
Gomes said PBHMD has the ability to interconnect with Meridian Service Metropolitan District to get additional water, should that become necessary. However, according to the Meridian metro district website, the 15 on-site and six off-site wells are all located within the Denver Basin aquifer system, except for two in the Upper Black Squirrel alluvial aquifer.
According to the Statewide Water Supply Initiative developed by the Colorado Water Conservation Board of the Department of Natural Resources in 2010, between 2010 and 2050, “There will need to be a decreased reliance on nonrenewable, non-tributary groundwater as a permanent water supply. Without this, there are reliability and sustainability concerns in some areas, particularly along the Front Range.”
By 2050, the SWSI indicates that northern El Paso County and the South Metro area, just north of the county, will need to replace about 35,000-acre-feet of non-tributary groundwater with a renewable water source.
Steve Berry, a spokesman with Colorado Springs Utilities, said CSU has the ability and willingness to help out neighboring districts, and does not rule out a possibility of linking up with WHMD or PBHMD in the future. But there are no immediate plans to partner with WHMD or any other metropolitan district, he said.
“There is not enough water to supply the new houses that are being built out there (in the Falcon area),” McGrady said. “A lot of houses are being built on a very fragile water supply.”
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The New Falcon Herald August issue addressed the legalities of concealed firearm carry in Colorado. This month, the conversation continues with the pros and cons of concealed carry.
Pros and cons of concealed carry
By Mark Stoller
Colorado requires that applicants meet specific conditions before a concealed carry permit is issued by the county sheriff. The reasons individuals choose to carry a firearm span from constitutional right, self and family defense to a prepared/protective personality.
All 50 states legally permit firearm carry within their borders. Research into the widely debated topic of concealed carry finds the following common responses for and against concealing firearms:
Pro 1: Concealed handguns deter crime. In a 2005 National Crime Victimization Survey, 26 women said they used a weapon to resist being raped. In all 26 cases the rape was not completed nor did the victims suffer additional injury after deploying their weapon.
Con 1: Permitting concealed carry handguns increases crime. It is believed a person will escalate an altercation to the use of a firearm in a situation where they normally wouldn’t consider it.
Pro 2: The right to carry concealed handguns is guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. The federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, in the December 2012 case Moore v. Madigan, ruled 2-1 that the Second Amendment's right to bear arms "must be interpreted to include a right to have a concealed gun in public, to have it ready for use, and to have it for self-defense."
Con 2: Second Amendment rights have limits. Conversely, the argument can be made the right to bear arms is intended strictly for militias and not personal use.
Pro 3: Most adults who carry concealed handguns are law-abiding and do not misuse their firearms. Andy Wolf, a permit holder and Iraq War veteran said, “Everything changed in my first two years being legally armed. Since then, I don’t drink in public, I’m very polite to people, I avoid a fight whenever possible, drive carefully and I’m very careful about what I say in public.”
Con 3: Concealed carry application requirements and background checks do not prevent dangerous people from acquiring firearms. In May 2007, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reviewed a list of concealed gun permit holders in Florida and found that 1,400 had pleaded guilty or no contest to a felony; 216 had outstanding warrants; and 128 had active domestic violence injunctions.
Pro 4: Carrying a concealed handgun could help stop a public shooting spree. In December 2007, a volunteer security guard at the Colorado Springs New Life Church utilized his concealed handgun to shoot an attacker who had opened fire in the church.
Con 4: Criminals are more likely to carry a gun if they suspect that victims may also be armed. The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research reported 75 percent of incarcerated felons admitted carrying a gun during their crime because there is always a chance their victim would be armed.
Pro 5: Concealed handguns protect people who cannot always rely on police forces for protection. Depending on location, police response time could mean the difference between life and death.
Con 5: Public safety should be left to professionally qualified officers, not private citizens with little or no expert training. Concealed carry permit classes can be less than 24 hours in length, whereas law enforcement officers have years of continued training.
To conceal or not to conceal: How does this apply to the Falcon, Black Forest and Peyton community? The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office provided crime statistics for the last three years and added the current numbers for reported cases in 2017.
Worthy to note, there were three homicides over the last two years in Falcon and Peyton. One of the three deaths involved the use of a handgun, while the second was a stabbing, and the most recent homicide labeled an undisclosed cause.
According to arrest papers, in May 2016, accused killer Gustavo Torres-Gonzales shot and killed Daryl Ritz, a 33-year veteran of the Colorado Springs Fire Department, on Judge Orr Road in Falcon. An August 2016 KRDO article details how Timothy Hagins, allegedly schizophrenic, went into a Falcon home and attacked, strangled and stabbed the home owner with an ice scraper, spatula, mop handle and other items. Hagins was later overpowered and held at another home in Black Forest until deputies arrived. Lastly, an April 2017 “Gazette” article revealed one body was dumped along Highway 24 near Peyton with an undisclosed cause of death.
In the category of non-violent crime, Falcon has substantial numbers of reported theft and criminal trespass auto. Angela Gillespie, EPSO crime analyst, noted that the “heightened numbers of theft in Falcon during 2016 were attributed to a specific group of individuals working their way through the community” before finally being caught by EPSO detectives.
The reported crime statistics for Falcon, Black Forest and Peyton appear rather consistent. Murder is not something residents in the community expect to happen on a regular basis. Would a concealed weapon have made a difference in any of the three homicides? Who knows? The pros and cons have been stated. In the end, it’s a matter of choice.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office provided the following chart to the NFH.