by Luci Kelemen ’20


This study explored the stormwater story of Colorado Springs, CO. Specifically, we looked at the ways in which humans have influenced the movement of water through the city. We found that the causes and effects of stormwater management are far-reaching and complex.

People, their political and social climate, local geography, and the history of growth and development are highly relevant to the management of stormwater. This study demonstrates the interconnected nature of the environment and humans, and emphasizes the co-determination of all of our urban “natural” cycles.


Research Specifics
This study utilized archival research and interviews with local city officials and stakeholders in order to understand the complexities of stormwater management in the city of Colorado Springs. The archival research was done using local news source archives that were documented online. The interviews were conducted one at a time with individuals including city officials and non-governmental informed stakeholders.

Below is a visual aid broken down into thematic findings of the study. All of the findings are interwoven; they both influence and are influenced by the others. Fundamentally, the flow goes as follows: growth and development come to the area, the city responds by strategically buying up water rights, the increase in development and water input puts a strain on existing infrastructure, the city is unable to maintain that infrastructure because of a tax averse community, the officials are only able to make change when their voting base agrees, and finally, the socio-political and environmental effects of this are seen.


1. Folk-Williams, John, Susan Fry, and Lucy Hilgendorf. 1985. Western Water Flows to the Cities. 3rd ed. Water in the West. Sante Fe, NM: Western Network.

2. “State Demography Office.” n.d. Colorado Department of Local Affairs. https://demography.dola.colorado.g ov/population/.

3. National Research Council. 2009. “Urban Stormwater Management in the United States.” Washington DC: National Academies Press.

4. City of Colorado Springs. 2016. “Colorado Springs Water Tour.”