Ark Valley conduit takes another step
The Arkansas Valley Conduit, a 130-mile water pipeline that would serve as many as 40 communities and 50,000 people east of Pueblo, has cleared yet another major hurdle this year.
Officials with the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District and the Bureau of Reclamation announced Monday that a project management plan that will guide construction of the conduit has been adopted by the two entities.
The two entities have worked together for the past year to envision a layout for the conduit that reaches communities with the poorest water quality most quickly, reduces overall costs, and reduces the need for federal appropriations.
“The project management plan is the blueprint for how we will build the Arkansas Valley Conduit and an important step in the future of the AVC,” said Bill Long, president of the Southeastern District Board of Directors.
“The AVC is absolutely necessary for the future water quality and health of the Arkansas Valley.”
In February, the conduit received a major financial boost to begin construction, decades after the project was authorized by the U.S. Congress.
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., announced then that he secured $28 million in funding for the conduit project. The funding will come from the Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation’s Fiscal Year 2020 work plan.
An additional $8 million for 2021 was requested in President Donald Trump’s budget.
The estimated cost of the conduit is between $564 million and $610 million.
Gardner said the communities of the Lower Arkansas Valley deserve clean drinking water, which the Arkansas Valley Conduit will supply for generations to come.
“I was proud to secure robust federal funding of $28 million to begin construction for the first time since Congress authorized the project and President (John F.) Kennedy promised completion nearly six decades ago,” Gardner said.
“The project management plan adopted by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy is another great step forward for this project and I’ll continue to work with local and federal leaders to ensure we deliver abundant and affordable clean drinking water to the Colorado communities in need.”
Officials said that under the plan, Arkansas Valley Conduit water will be delivered to a point east of Pueblo by the Pueblo Board of Water Works. A contract among Reclamation, Pueblo Water and Southeastern is in the discussion stage.
From that point, Reclamation will construct the trunk line, a treatment plant and water tanks, while Southeastern will coordinate with communities to fund and build connections. Reclamation and Southeastern continue to meet regularly, using remote technology, to work on activities such as design, land acquisition and environmental review that will lead to construction.
“We’re on a path to begin construction in the near future, but we still have a lot of work to do,” said Kevin Karney, who chairs Southeastern’s Arkansas Valley Conduit Committee.
“Part of that will be reaching out to AVC participants to help shape how the AVC is developed. Overall, I’m excited to see the AVC moving forward.”
The Colorado Water Conservation Board approved a $100 million finance package that still must be approved by the Colorado Legislature.
By: Anthony Mestas
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