From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Monica Mendoza):
A giant teeth-gnashing machine is boring its way 85 feet under Interstate 25, two sets of railroad tracks and Fountain Creek. The machine is cutting a 1-mile long tunnel about 20 miles south of downtown Colorado Springs for a section of a massive pipeline project that will carry millions of gallons of water from the Pueblo Reservoir to Colorado Springs. It is the most complicated and dangerous part of the 50-mile stretch of the Southern Delivery System project, said Brian Whitehead, Colorado Springs Utilities project manager. If all goes as planned the tunnel should be completed in the first quarter of 2015.
“This is the last section of the pipe to be constructed and the most complex part,” Whitehead said. “There are risks – it’s not something anyone can do.”
Construction on the biggest Utilities project in its history began in 2010. The Southern Delivery System project was envisioned as the way for the city to handle future growth, said Jay Hardison, Colorado Springs Utilities water treatment plant project manager. It took years to plan and receive the proper permits from federal, state and county officials. The plan also was reviewed and approved by the Federal Aviation Administration because the new water treatment plant and holding tank off Colorado 94 are in the flight line near Colorado Springs Airport.
SDS cost, water rates
– Project cost: $841 million.
– Utilities customers’ water rate increased by 12 percent in 2011 and 2012 to cover cost of project.
– Utilities customers’ water rate increase by 10 percent in 2013 and 2014.
Southern delivery system timeline
2009: Final approvals and permits secured.
2010: Construction started.
2011: Construction began at Pueblo Dam and on the raw water pipeline.
2012: Pueblo Dam connection complete.
2014: Raw water pipeline construction complete.
2015: Raw water pump stations expected to be complete.
2016: Water treatment plant and finished water pump stations expected to be completed and SDS delivers water to Colorado Springs, Fountain, Security and Pueblo West.
2020-2025: Phase 2 could begin to expand capacity at the water treatment plant
More coverage from Monica Mendoza writing for The Colorado Springs Gazette:
At the start of the economic recession in 2008-09 work slowed at the Northwest Pipe company, which manufactures pipe in Denver. Then in 2010, the contracts for the massive $841 million Southern Delivery System project started dropping, said John Moore, Northwest Pipe operations manager. Colorado Springs Utilities was building a 50-mile pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir to Colorado Springs.
“When it dropped, we went from hanging on, hibernation mode, to Pueblo and production,” Moore said. “At the apex, we had 235 people employed working two shifts. For us it meant business was up.”
Utilities has hired 380 businesses in Colorado to plan and build the pipeline and water treatment plant, spending an estimated $489 million on contracts in the state. Of that, Northwest Pipe won $110 million in work.
The company made four to five pipes a day. In all it manufactured 7,000 pieces of pipe for the project. Beyond the direct contracts, there was a ripple effect, Moore said.
“Anytime you have a project this size, you are coordinating with suppliers and trucking companies,” Moore said. For example, during peak production, as many as 25 trucks a day left Northwest Pipe’s manufacturing facility. “We used local suppliers – the truck company was local.”
“The other thing that might be missed in the number is that most of the people who work on these crews putting the pipe in, there is a lot of inspection required, people making sure they are doing things right,” Moore said. “We have reps coming in, there is a huge travel industry associated with this project in rental cars, hotels and air travel.”
There is about one mile of pipeline left to complete in the project. Then Northwest Pipe will be done and moving on to water projects in Texas and other states, Moore said. The company has nine manufacturing plants across the country.
“Across the country, water infrastructure is getting old – water pipes are getting old,” Moore said.