From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
A regional water conservation plan already is opening doors for participants in the Arkansas Valley Conduit. The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District has worked with the communities to develop strategies to improve water systems in advance of the conduit’s construction. Benefits include measuring how water is used, plugging leaks and managing pressure.
“The need is the infrastructure, and that’s what we’re trying to focus on,” said Jean Van Pelt, project coordinator for the Southeastern district. “When the conduit is completed, we don’t want it to connect to aging systems with leaking pipes.”
The conduit will take clean drinking water 130 miles from Pueblo Dam to Lamar and Eads. Along the way, 40 small communities are expected to tap into the line to bring water to 50,000 people. The $400 million project is at least a decade away from completion.
The district also is seeking a master contract for storage in Lake Pueblo for conduit participants and other water users in the Southeastern district.
One of the requirements placed on the communities by the Bureau of Reclamation is to ensure that water is not wasted, so conservation plans are needed.
“We went out and interviewed all of the conduit participants and we are in the process of integrating the master contract participants as well,” Van Pelt said.
Large utilities have more resources to employ strategies like rate structures, leak detection, metering, system audits and consumer education.
The Southeastern district also offers a tool box on its website where communities can pick and choose from ideas for reducing water waste in their systems.
The regional conservation plan also gives a leg up to private water companies seeking grants to improve their water supply, which require both conservation plans and governmental structure to administer the grant.
“The plan needs to be in place,” Van Pelt said.
The conservation plan and tool box have been under development since 2011 at a cost of $50,000-$60,000 per year using grants from Reclamation and the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
More Arkansas Valley Conduit coverage here.