Arkansas Valley Conduit to bring safe, clean water to rural Colorado communities

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Senator Bennet from the Arkansas Valley Conduit event at the Pueblo Dam

PUEBLO, Colo.,– U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) helped break ground on the Arkansas Valley Conduit project in Pueblo, finally beginning construction on the project for the first time since Congress authorized it nearly six decades ago.

The bipartisan efforts to bring clean drinking water to the lower Arkansas Valley at a groundbreaking ceremony at the Pueblo Dam hosted by U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary David Bernhardt and Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) Commissioner Brenda Burman.

Bennet worked with local leaders on the Arkansas Valley Conduit and members of the Colorado Congressional Delegation for over a decade to secure federal funding for this important water infrastructure project in the lower Arkansas Valley.

When completed, the project will convey clean water from Pueblo Reservoir via 230 miles of pipelines to 40 communities and a projected future population of 50,000 people in Southeastern Colorado.  

“It has been a decades-long fight to bring clean drinking water to communities along the lower Arkansas Valley. Local leaders like Bob Rawlings, former Congressman Ray Kogovsek, and so many others tireless advocates have never missed an opportunity to come together and put aside politics to fight for this project and the interests of their community,” said Bennet. “As a new senator in 2009, after learning more about this critical project from Congressman Kogovsek, my first accomplishment was to secure the initial round of funding for the Conduit. We have to keep fighting to make sure this project has the funding it deserves, so everyone in the Valley, no matter where they live, has access to clean drinking water.”

In February, congress secured $28 million of funding for the Arkansas Valley Conduit project, provided by the Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation’s Fiscal Year 2020 work plan.

President John F. Kennedy signed the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project Act in 1962, authorizing construction of the AVC, but it was not previously constructed because the rural communities could not afford the full cost of the project. Reclamation worked with project sponsors to reduce costs and the need for federal appropriations, identifying additional funding revenues through both federal and state loans and grants. The total cost of the AVC is estimated to be between $564 million and $610 million, and 35 percent of the costs will be repaid by project beneficiaries over a period of up to 50 years.

When completed, AVC will deliver as much as 7,500 acre-feet of water from Pueblo Reservoir annually through a pipeline running from Pueblo to Lamar and Eads. Water will flow by gravity, with the exception of one pumping station in Eads.

“The communities of the Lower Arkansas Valley deserve clean drinking water, which the Arkansas Valley Conduit will supply for generations to come. It’s an honor to help finally begin construction on this project for the first time since Congress authorized it and President Kennedy promised completion nearly six decades ago,” said U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (CO).

More information about the project can be found on the Bureau of Reclamation’s website.

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