From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
Nonprofit rural water districts will benefit from new legislation that will allow them to apply for state grants and loans.
Gov. John Hickenlooper is scheduled to sign the legislation into law this afternoon in Rocky Ford, at the offices of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.
“The beauty of this is that it just doesn’t help water districts in our area, but throughout the whole state,” said Bill Hancock, manager of conservation programs for the Lower Ark District.
Hancock is part of the Eureka Water District, one of 28 water districts in Otero County, many of them private associations. Those districts sprang up during a time when rural households were switching from cisterns to water delivery systems that served multiple households.
Now, those districts are finding it difficult to make changes required by stricter water quality regulations or just the need to keep up with repairs.
The legislation, Senate Bill 121, amends the law for the drinking water revolving fund administered by the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority to make private, nonprofit entities eligible for loans or grants. It was sponsored by Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa, and others.
“A lot of the companies are dealing with radionuclides or have aging infrastructure, which is very costly to fix, and they have no good way to finance improvements,” Hancock said. “In order to get government help, they had to be a governmental entity.”
Some of the private water districts in Otero County formed an association last year in an attempt to get state funds, but it was treated as a “pass-through” agency by the state, Hancock said. The Lower Ark district pushed for the new law that keeps the funding door open.
“We needed a legislative change,” he said.
The new law also will help agencies in the Arkansas Valley Conduit prepare for hooking into the new water delivery system from Pueblo Dam when it is built.
More infrastructure coverage here.