Colorado gets another $90M to complete 130-mile water line along Arkansas River



(The Center Square) – Colorado is one of four states to receive a portion of $242 million in federal funds to increase capacity for drinking water in the western United States.

Approximately $90 million, the largest amount of the five projects funded by the Bureau of Reclamation, will fund continued construction of the Arkansas Valley Conduit. When completed in 2030, it’s estimated the 130-mile line will serve 50,000 people in 39 rural communities along the Arkansas River.

“Since joining the Senate, I’ve pushed for greater investments and passed legislation to ensure the federal government keeps its word and finishes the Arkansas Valley Conduit,” Colorado Democrat U.S. Senator Michael Bennet said in a statement. “This announcement brings us one step closer, but I’ll keep working with the Bureau of Reclamation and the 39 communities across Southeast Colorado to finish this project and deliver a safe and reliable water supply for every Coloradan.”

Bennet and fellow Colorado Democrat U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper in January requested $10.1 million from President Biden’s administration in the fiscal year 2025 budget for the project. During the last two fiscal years, approximately $160 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was designated for the water project.

Last year, the Arkansas Valley Conduit project received $100 million of the $152 million allocated by the Bureau of Reclamation.

The line will run from the Pueblo Reservoir to communities to the south and east, including Bent, Crowley, Kiowa, Otero, Prowers and Pueblo Counties. The projected cost is approximately $12,000 per person served by the line.

The Arkansas River Conduit will replace ground water sources in Colorado with high levels of radionuclides, resulting in water unsafe for drinking, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“These investments will advance projects that bring reliable drinking and agricultural water to residents in need, provide ecosystem benefits, and increase overall water storage,” Camille Calimlim Touton, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, said in a statement.

Two water projects in California will enhance water storage and receive $142.5 million, according to information from the Bureau of Reclamation. Arizona will receive $8.5 million for a feasibility study to identify alternatives to address water shortages due to sediment accumulation at Horseshoe Reservoir. The Cle Elum Pool Raise project in Washington will receive $1 million to increase reservoir capacity for instream flows for fish.

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