Authorization for the Arkansas Valley Conduit (supply water pipeline from Pueblo Dam to Lamar) has been a moving target for decades and now funding is drying up before anyone starts turning dirt. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:
The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District learned Thursday that federal economic stimulus money for the project is unlikely and that a loan for the conduit has become a playing piece in efforts to balance the state budget. The Bureau of Reclamation had $1 billion in stimulus funds available, but chose to fund projects that are close to being finished rather than new projects, said Christine Arbogast, a lobbyist for the Southeastern district.
The district had requested $5 million to advance planning on the route and rights of way for the $300 million conduit from Pueblo Dam to Lamar. The conduit would provide fresh drinking water to about 50,000 people in 42 water districts, many of which are facing water issues such as salinity and radium or uranium in wells. The conduit was part of 1962 Fryingpan-Arkansas legislation, but was never built because of the local expense. A bill signed into law last month by President Barack Obama authorizes the conduit to be built using excess-capacity lease revenues from the Fry-Ark Project to repay federal costs. The federal share is 65 percent under the legislation…
Meanwhile, the state House is considering using $35 million of a $60 million Colorado Water Conservation Board loan the district obtained to finance the local share. Executive Director Jim Broderick said using the loan, which is really funding capacity, has been discussed as one source of finding state funds to patch budget deficits for several weeks. The problem with tampering with it at this time is that this Legislature cannot make financial commitments for future bodies. As recently as last Friday, the entire $60 million appeared to be secure in the Senate’s budget, but only $25 million is in the most recent House budget. Broderick has been organizing pressure from several directions to attempt to secure the whole amount. The conduit has not used any money from the loan to date.