Pueblo wants Springs Utilities to pay $150,000 legal bill

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Pueblo County, which spent $150,000 in defending a lawsuit brought by its suburban neighbor, Pueblo West, concerning the Arkansas River Pueblo flow program, wants someone else to pay the County’s legal fees.

The someone else? Colorado Springs Utilities.

According to reports from the Pueblo Chieftain Pueblo County Commissioners believe CSU should pay, because CSU didn’t protect Pueblo West’s water rights while hammering out the terms of the “1041″ permit that allowed the Southern Delivery System to proceed. As the lead negotiator, CSU allegedly failed to notify its partner, Pueblo West, that certain water rights might be impaired.

The other party in the 1041 permit negotiations was Pueblo County.

Immediately after the Pueblo County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the 1041 permit, Pueblo West sued the County. The lawsuit was settled last week on terms largely favorable to Pueblo West.

Under what seems to be a novel theory of liability, Pueblo County officials said that CSU should pay for their failure to negotiate more effectively with Pueblo County, which would have obviated the necessity for any lawsuit.

Quoting Pueblo County Commissioner Jeff Chostner, the Chieftain reported that he’s optimistic about getting reimbursed by CSU.

Chostner said the billing of Colorado Springs Utilities is not meant to be antagonistic, and should not come as a surprise

“Colorado Springs Utilities had a responsibility for the other participants to be informed,” Chostner said. “Colorado Springs should have resolved the problem without Pueblo West suing Pueblo County.”