PUEBLO, Colo. — A long-awaited pipeline got the green light for construction this year to deliver clean water from the Pueblo Reservoir to Eastern Plains communities that have struggled for access for years.
The Arkansas Valley Conduit (AVC) has been a project for the Southeast Colorado Water Conservancy District since the 1960s. The pipeline would provide drinking water to 50,000 people in 39 communities east of Pueblo over the next few years. This, after many have dealt with contaminated water for over 20 years.
“Many communities in lower Arkansas Valley are facing public health concerns for violating EPA standards,” said Chris Woodka, senior policy officer for the Southern Water Conservation District. -eastern Colorado. “Mainly for radionuclides, but also some surface contaminants, such as selenium, were found.”
Stroke has been stalled for years due to lack of funding among communities. But after a 2009 federal law provided 65% of the necessary federal funding, the project was able to get up and running.
The new pipeline agreement signed by the federal government and the Southeast Colorado Water Conservation District and the Pueblo Waterworks Board was signed last week.
“The water quality issues were clearly known in the 1950s when they started planning this project, that they needed a better source of water and a more consistent supply,” said Woodka. “When the conduit is there, many of their water quality issues will be alleviated.
Woodka said the AVC is expected to deliver water to communities such as Avondale and Boone by 2024, and to other communities, such as La Junta, as early as 2027. The entire pipeline is expected to be completed by 2035, if not sooner.
The $600 million project will channel water through the city of Pueblo’s water system rather than building a separate pipe around the city.
“By going through Pueblo rather than bypassing Pueblo, we’re able to accelerate this project much, much faster,” Woodka said.
The water will come either from the Fryingpan-Arkansas project or from participants’ water wallets, not from Pueblo Water resources.
Pueblo Water will charge an initial rate of $2.19 per 1,000 gallons delivered, which reflects the operating and maintenance costs required for the AVC. the rate will increase annually at the same rate as other Pueblo Water customers.
Compared to other pipelines from El Paso County to the Pueblo Reservoir, Woodka said this one would be different.
“They pump water upstream. The Arkansas Valley Conduit will use gravity to flow water from Pueblo to Lamar,” Woodka said.
So far, federal funding has totaled $40 million, while $100 million in loans or grants are available for AVC
through the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The district contributed $4.8 million through its
company, while participants have paid $1.5 million since 2011.
Pueblo County recently contributed $1.2 million to build delivery lines in Boone and Avondale with
local American Rescue Plan Act funds and other counties or towns in the Arkansas Valley should
“We are more advanced today than we have ever been. We’ve had people say no, it’s never going to happen. But now we have momentum and I think people are excited and ready to get on it,” Woodka said.
For more information on the project, visit the Southeastern Water Conservancy District website.