Colorado Springs City Council narrowly approves controversial water ordinance

Shanna Lewis/KRCC News
Colorado Springs City Hall on Feb, 14, 2023.

Colorado Springs City Council narrowly approved a controversial water ordinance Tuesday on a 5-to-4 vote.

It specifies how and when the city utility can extend water service. The new rules require the utility to keep its water supply at 128 percent of demand before new land can be annexed. Exceptions could be made by a majority vote of council if the circumstances are deemed extraordinary and critical to the city’s interests.

This was the third reading of the ordinance after it was amended two weeks ago following substantial discussion by council. It was first proposed by Colorado Springs Utilities last fall.

Voting against the ordinance were council members Bill Murray, Dave Donelson, Yolanda Avila and Tom Strand. Murray called the measure a knee-jerk reaction and thought more time should be spent on it.

Donelson agreed and noted concerns about how the new requirements might affect new development and potential housing availability and affordability, especially in the Fort Carson area.

Council also approved a major update to the city’s zoning code, known as ReToolCOS, on an 8-to-1 vote. The 400-plus page document has been in the works for more than three years. Donelson cast the lone no vote, citing concerns about the appeals process.

The new zoning plan takes effect on June 5.