SECWCD: Arkansas Valley Conduit gains federal funding
The Arkansas Valley Conduit received $28 million in federal funding to finish design and begin construction of the long-awaited pipeline.
“We are very grateful and thankful for the work of Senator Gardner and our delegation in securing this funding,” said Bill Long, president of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, sponsor of the AVC. “This amount of money is a real milestone in the history of the project.”
The funding was announced Tuesday by Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. Long also thanked Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., and Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., for their efforts in supporting the AVC.
“I think this is a wonderful example of bi-partisan support and partnership of federal, state and local officials that is needed to secure a safe drinking water supply, not only for the people of Southeastern Colorado, but for every rural American,” Long said.
“The communities of the Lower Arkansas Valley deserve clean drinking water, which the AVC will supply for generations to come,” Sen. Gardner said. “This is the first time robust federal funding of $28 million has been dedicated to the project.”
Gardner worked closely with President Donald Trump and administration officials to secure the funds, and has been a long-time proponent of the AVC.
The AVC is seen by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as the best remedy for high levels of naturally occurring radioactive materials in drinking water for about 15 of the water providers. Other communities are also facing issues of expensive treatment for other sorts of contamination.
The $28 million is the first step in a $600 million project to provide clean drinking water from Pueblo Dam through a 130-pipeline to Lamar and Eads. The Colorado Water Conservation Board approved a $100 million finance package for AVC in November. State legislative approval is needed to finalize the availability of those funds.
The Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Interior worked with other cabinet-level agencies in the past two months as part of an initiative to find efficiencies in construction of water projects.
The AVC will provide clean drinking water to about 50,000 people in 40 communities east of Pueblo.
The AVC was first authorized as part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project in 1962 as a way to provide supplemental water to communities east of Pueblo. It was never built because of the cost to local water systems.
In 2009, federal legislation made revenues from the Fry-Ark Project available for construction and repayment of the AVC. A 2014 Record of Decision by the Bureau of Reclamation determined the AVC was the best solution for water quality and supply problems in the Lower Arkansas Valley.
Reclamation has worked with the Southeastern District for the past three years in planning efforts to reduce costs and the time needed to reach water systems east of Pueblo.
The Fryingpan-Arkansas Project (Project) is a transmountain diversion which supplies southeastern Colorado with improved supplemental water supply for irrigation, municipal and industrial uses, hydroelectric power generation, and recreational opportunities. The Project also provides flood control for the area and is designed to maintain or improve fish and wildlife habitats. The Project acquired its name from the fact that it collects approximately 57,400 acre-feet of water each year from the Fryingpan River basin on the western slope of the Continental Divide and delivers it via the Arkansas River to the water-short eastern slope. Learn more online @ https://www.secwcd.org/