Trump Administration breaks ground on long-awaited Arkansas Valley Conduit to bring safe, clean water to rural Colorado communities

Last edited 09/29/2021

Date: Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020

PUEBLO, Colo. – Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt was in Pueblo, Colorado, to officially mark the groundbreaking for the construction of the Arkansas Valley Conduit (AVC) Project at Pueblo Dam. When completed, the project will convey clean water from Pueblo Reservoir via 230 miles of pipelines to 40 communities and a projected future population of 50,000 people in Southeastern Colorado.  

“For nearly 60 years, Colorado’s leaders of both political parties have been working to move the Arkansas Valley Conduit forward. Over the last three years, the forceful advocacy of Senator Gardner working with the Trump Administration has led to today’s significant milestone,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “This project will provide reliable clean water for 50,000 people living in 40 rural communities across southern Colorado.”

“The Arkansas Valley Conduit will provide a reliable long-term water supply to rural communities who now depend on groundwater that contains naturally occurring toxins. Reclamation is proud to provide a source of safe and clean water to promote health, welfare, and economic opportunity for these Americans,” said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman.

President John F. Kennedy signed the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project Act in 1962, authorizing construction of the AVC, but it was not previously constructed because the rural communities could not afford the full cost of the project. Reclamation worked with project sponsors to reduce costs and the need for federal appropriations, identifying additional funding revenues through both federal and state loans and grants. The total cost of the AVC is estimated to be between $564 million and $610 million, and 35 percent of the costs will be repaid by project beneficiaries over a period of up to 50 years.

When completed, AVC will deliver as much as 7,500 acre-feet of water from Pueblo Reservoir annually through a pipeline running from Pueblo to Lamar and Eads. Water will flow by gravity, with the exception of one pumping station in Eads.

“The communities of the Lower Arkansas Valley deserve clean drinking water, which the Arkansas Valley Conduit will supply for generations to come. It’s an honor to help finally begin construction on this project for the first time since Congress authorized it and President Kennedy promised completion nearly six decades ago,” said U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (CO). “I want to thank President Trump, Office of Management and Budget Director Vought, Department of the Interior Secretary Bernhardt, the leadership of the Bureau of Reclamation, and everyone in Southeast Colorado who worked tirelessly to make today’s groundbreaking possible. I will keep fighting to ensure the federal government upholds its funding commitment until the project is completed.”

“The Arkansas Valley Conduit is a bright spot for Southeast Colorado. Completion of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project has been a top priority during my time in Congress, and I’m glad to see the Bureau and project partners begin the groundbreaking of this critical project,” said U.S. Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03).

“Fighting to secure access to clean and safe drinking water in the Lower Arkansas Valley has been a top priority of mine since I entered Congress. In the last fiscal year, we have secured nearly $30 million in funding for the Arkansas Valley Conduit,” said U.S. Congressman Ken Buck (CO-04). “I am proud to announce that we are finally breaking ground on this project, which will help 50,000 people across 40 rural communities in southeast Colorado.”

Western water supply reliability and infrastructure investment has been a priority for President Trump and his administration. In October of 2018 with the signing of the “Presidential Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West” the Departments of the Interior, Commerce, Energy and Army focused on addressing “fragmented regulation of water infrastructure” and “to minimize unnecessary regulatory burdens and foster more efficient decision-making” to modernize water projects to better meet demand.

In February of 2020, President Trump signed another Presidential Memorandum on “Developing and Delivering More Water Supplies in California” implementing that it “is the policy of the United States to modernize our Federal western water infrastructure to deliver water and power in an efficient, cost-effective way.” Reclamation is proving that thorough reviews can be completed, timelines can be reasonably set and projects like the AVC can be built.

Matching regulatory consistency with financial commitment, the Bureau of Reclamation has invested $28 million toward construction of AVC in 2020 alone, compared with a mere $24.7 million in total federal investment over the course of the past 60 years. This investment has been crucial to developing local, state and regional financing for project sponsors.

More information about the project can be found on the Bureau of Reclamation’s website.

A small group of people use ceremonial shovels for a groundbreaking ceremony outside.

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