SECWCD: Arkansas Valley Conduit gets additional $8M in federal funding for FY 2021
The Arkansas Valley Conduit is in line to get an additional $8.05 million in fiscal year 2021, if Congress approves President Trump’s proposed budget, which was released Monday.
The possibility of additional funding comes after Congress approved $28 million in federal funding for the current fiscal year, which was announced last week. The Colorado Water Conservation Board has approved a $100 million financing package which is under consideration by the Colorado Legislature.
“It is very gratifying to see funding for the AVC beginning to flow as we prepare for construction,” said Bill Long, president of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, project sponsor. “Years of hard work have gone into this project, both by the District and Reclamation. The AVC was envisioned by far-sighted people more than 60 years ago, just as our efforts today will benefit future generations.”
The District and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation are working in partnership on a path forward that will allow final design and construction of the first segment of the line. The planning effort is designed to reduce costs and expedite construction.
“The AVC is a critical piece of infrastructure that will deliver clean and reliable water to rural communities of southeastern Colorado so they can thrive and grow,” said Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman, “I am pleased that through hard work and collaboration at the local, state, and federal level, Reclamation and our partners are positioned to move quickly toward construction so that we can deliver water to the communities of the Arkansas Valley.”
The AVC total cost is estimated to be between $564 million and $610 million and part of the path forward for the project includes working with other federal, state and local agencies to provide funding. The plan allows for development of the AVC in segments to deliver water more quickly, while employing regionalization strategies in advance of the AVC’s arrival.
The AVC will provide clean drinking water to about 50,000 people in 40 communities east of Pueblo via a 130-mile pipeline, along with connections to water systems along the way. The plan is to use capacity in Pueblo Water’s system to avoid building miles of additional pipeline. The line would extend from the eastern end of Pueblo’s service area near the Pueblo Airport.
The project 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 40 water providers. Other communities are also facing issues of expensive treatment for other sorts of contamination.
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.
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/