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Nearly all mayoral and City Council candidates promise more jobs and a better future for Colorado Springs. They envision a city in which children will want to stay as adults, bringing up generations into the future who will also want to stay. Despite that common goal, at least one mayoral candidate, Tom Gallagher — along with a slate of five council candidates headed by Douglas Bruce — want to kill the Southern Delivery System.

This is insane.

SDS, an $880 million pipeline that will deliver to Colorado Springs residents and businesses the water we store in Pueblo Reservoir, is absolutely, 100 percent essential to future jobs and economic stability for the Springs and surrounding region. Stopping means we, as a community, have decided to provide no future for significant growth of any kind — economic or demographic. It means we have told entrepreneurs, business owners and employers looking to relocate that Colorado Springs has chosen to close for business. It means we shouldn’t even dream about new high-paying jobs. It means we’ve told our children to move on down the road.

An end to SDS would be an immediate economic nightmare for the community, which has already committed to spending at least $115 million on the project. It if stopped in its tracks today, the city would have to impose substantial rate increases on water customers just to pay for obligations already incurred. Colorado Springs residents would pay a high price for absolutely nothing.

Stopping SDS or substantially delaying it or attempting to alter its route would quickly jeopardize water supply for current residents. We will benefit from the water soon, yet much of the cost will be shared by future residents for the next 40 years.

With no SDS, any substantial residential growth would result in high water rates — perhaps higher than those we’ll pay to construct SDS — as Colorado Springs Utilities would have to ration water with high prices. That’s simple free-market economics. When demand exceeds supply, the price goes up, and there’s no way around it. Without SDS, demand will exceed supply.

Colorado Springs residents, deprived of SDS, will realize their politicians have made a mistake. It will be too late, however, to do much about it. Getting federal, state, local and regional permits to build SDS was a costly process that has taken more than a decade. The permits expire.

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SDS opponents say the recession is a good reason to wait. They have it backwards. In truth, there may never be a better time to build a major pipeline. Contractors have little or no other work, meaning they are not in demand. That means their prices are low, resulting in bids that are substantially below estimates. To date, every successful bid has come in at least 20 percent below the city’s estimate. Money has been borrowed, spreading the cost to future residents, at historically low prices because demand for credit has ebbed. Steel is a bargain because a dearth in construction has lowered demand. By all indications, the first-phase construction of SDS may cost significantly less than anticipated because we’re mired in a recession that has lowered the costs of contracts, interest and materials.

The Gazette has a long and proud history of advocating a limited role of government in the lives of Coloradans. The Gazette opposes nonsensical tax increases. We want a small government focused on defending liberty and providing for common-good capital improvements — specifically roads, bridges and infrastructure. It’s hard to think of a more legitimate role for city government than overseeing and coordinating construction of a pipeline paid for by customers who buy water. It’s a no-brainer, even for died-in-the-wool limited-government advocates.

Politicians who promise to stop SDS must want a city of mediocrity, unemployment and economic stagnation for generations into the future. They promise to seal off Colorado Springs from the water it owns and needs in order to thrive. They promise a community that children will be anxious to leave.

Prosperity for Colorado Spring depends on the Southern Delivery System. It must continue without delay during this unique window of opportunity. If a politician tells you otherwise, vote for someone else.

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