From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., is asking the Senate energy appropriations subcommittee to provide additional funding for the Arkansas Valley Conduit. The conduit’s funding stream hit a snag in the 2014 budget request by President Barack Obama, which allocates $1 million. The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District had asked the Bureau of Reclamation for $15 million to keep the project moving forward.
At April’s meeting, the Southeastern board learned that Reclamation projects across the board had been slashed, including some already under construction. “I don’t know what will happen,” said Southeastern Executive Director Jim Broderick. “We are going to Washington in a couple of weeks to try to learn more.”
In a letter to committee chairman Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Bennet pointed out other long-term projects in California and Idaho that had received additional funding. “As the subcommittee prepares for the coming fiscal year, we must ensure that states and local communities have the resources to continue work on large-scale, multiyear projects,” Bennet said.
The conduit’s environmental impact statement is being prepared by Reclamation, and the conduit already has a built-in repayment mechanism through 2009 legislation that devotes Fryingpan-Arkansas contract revenue to conduit costs.
The cost of the project is estimated at $500 million. It would deliver fresh drinking water from Pueblo Dam to 40 communities as far east as Lamar. Many of those communities could face even higher treatment costs if the conduit is not completed.