Arkansas Valley Conduit: Financing elusive

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Here’s an update on the process to raise capital to fund the Arkansas Valley Conduit, from David Vickers writing for the La Junta Tribune Democrat. From the article:

Bent County Commissioner Bill Long from Las Animas, who chairs the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District and both the SECWCD’s Arkansas Valley Conduit Committee and the area’s conduit advisory committee, said Thursday that $25 million remains in the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s loan program for the conduit. When the General Assembly faced a budget shortfall of more than $700 million to balance its budget for the coming year, it tapped the CWCB’s loan program for extra funds, including $35 million intended to help finance the conduit project…

A meeting scheduled on April 21 in La Junta was abruptly cancelled when Long and Jim Broderick, the conservancy district’s general manager, were called to Washington, D.C., to speak to congressional representatives about potential federal funding through the Obama Administration’s stimulus package. “That was the real reason we cancelled the meeting,” Long said. “We had to be in Washington that day.” It coincided, however, with the announcement that state legislators would be tapping into the CWCB’s loan program to help balance the budget. Long said the meeting cancellation and the news from the statehouse left some people with the impression that state funding for the project had dried up. “The $25 million is still there and there’s a commitment to replace the balance ($35 million),” Long said…

In the coming week, Long said he expects to meet with members of the SECWCD board of directors who also serve on the district’s conduit committee. His goals for the meeting will be two-fold: to discuss myriad possibilities for federal funding and to re-start the processes needed to access the remaining $25 million in the CWCB loan program. “One thing we have to do before we gain access to the $25 million from the CWCB is put together a memorandum of understanding or an intergovernmental agreement that binds us together in the project and makes sure we know how we will repay the loan,” Long said. Long said the conservation district has been reluctant to ask any of the water users to sign documents until the district can quantify the amount of water each entity will receive from the conduit and the costs per capita they will be charged to pay for its construction. “The Arkansas Valley Conduit Committee itself has spent a year determining how the water east of Pueblo will be divided,” Long said. “The committee has submitted a request to the Southeastern District, which is in the early stages of reviewing it, but that request would pretty much set up the project.” Many of the entities expecting to receive water from the conduit have already begun collecting fees on a per capita basis.

Gaining access to a $25 million loan would give the conduit committee a big jump toward financing the costs for engineering the pipeline and conducting environmental studies that federal agencies will demand before permits will be issued to construct it…

The Southeastern District and Lower Arkansas Water Conservancy District have continued to help pay for costs associated with the project, including detailed feasibility reports and cost analyses. The Lower Arkansas District committed $50,000 this year and similar amounts in previous years. The SECWCD also secured a State and Tribal Assistance Grant for $600,000, which when matched with about $500,000 from the conservancy districts will give the conduit committee enough to continue work like finalizing the route for the conduit.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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