There is a problem brewing with the president’s agenda when it comes to the Colorado-federal alliance for emergency natural disaster relief and pump safety rules. Colorado has to keep building what it put in. The Colorado Department of Transportation’s Chief Traffic Engineer, Eric Pawlowski says “The pumping stations are inherently unsafe, they’re designed to fail, they need to be replaced.” Colorado is desperate for more pump stations in drought-ridden Weld and Dallas counties and likes the president’s emergency bill that would expedite the purchase of the pumps.
In order to fight fires, we can’t put up more pumps that can end up being decades old because federal regulators wouldn’t let us build new ones. Colorado will say enough is enough, this elevates our frustration with both federal regulators and Congressional intransigence. “Yes the federal legislation is important, but so is the fact that while we have 3 out of the 25 pumps we would like in Denver that is not going to be done if it’s just going to be a federal stopgap. Colorado is going to do whatever it takes to protect itself in case of emergency.”
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said there is a lot of support for his ideas to strengthen Obama administration regulations to give state officials more flexibility to replace failing pump stations, rather than forcing them to stop pumping immediately during droughts. For example, during periods of drought the Denver Fire Department would only shut down 20 percent of the pumping stations until new, more efficient pumps could be installed, while Denver was generally allowed to make repairs, pay for the installation and even upgrade pumps in slow-growing areas. Hickenlooper calls his plan the “managed fall back”, because the voluntary plan allows him to save 100 percent of the pumps when drought is extreme and it’s not yet clear what level of emergency Denver could be dealing with when the next drought hits.
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