(COLORADO) — The Biden Administration announced $60 million in federal funding for the Arkansas Valley Conduit (AVC) from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) on Monday, Oct. 17.

This funding comes as part of a $210 million package that the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) is distributing throughout the West to improve access to reliable drinking water through water storage and transport.

Arkansas Valley Conduit
Courtesy: FOX21 News

Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper welcomed the announcement.

“Sixty years ago, President Kennedy came to Pueblo and promised to build the Arkansas Valley Conduit to deliver clean drinking water to families in Southeastern Colorado. Since I’ve been in the Senate, I’ve fought to ensure the federal government keeps its word to Colorado and finishes this vital infrastructure project,” said Sen. Bennet. “One of the first bills I passed helped to jumpstart and fund construction on the Arkansas Valley Conduit, and with this announcement, we’ve delivered more than $140 million to help complete construction and deliver on this decades-old promise.”

Both senators and U.S. Colorado Representative Ken Buck advocated in July for Colorado to receive funding for the AVC project.

“Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, long-stalled projects like the Ark Valley Conduit are moving forward. Today, we’re bringing this 60 year project over the finish line,” said Sen. Hickenlooper.

The AVC is the last phase of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, which was authorized by Congress in 1962. The project “is a planned 130-mile water-delivery system from the Pueblo Dam to communities throughout the Arkansas River Valley in Southeast Colorado,” according to the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District (SECWCD).

Bill Long, board president of SECWCD said, “We have been working hard to move this project from planning to construction. This announcement follows the first construction contract award, and is a clear indication that the District and Reclamation will continue to partner in this long-time effort to bring clean drinking water to the Lower Arkansas Valley.”

According to the SECWCD, the conduit will provide a trunk line that will transport water down-valley, where delivery lines will be constructed and connected by the SECWCD. This will improve water quality issues highlighted under the Safe Drinking Water Act and provide over 50,000 people with a water supply.

The contract for construction for this phase of the project has been awarded to the Weeminuche Construction Authority, an enterprise of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. The construction will be expedited with this funding.