Accelerating the Arkansas Valley Conduit project will bring safe, reliable water to Southeastern Colorado communities faster
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet sent a letter to Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton requesting additional funding for the Arkansas Valley Conduit (AVC) to speed-up completion of the six-decade-long project. The senators also expressed their gratitude for Commissioner Touton’s visit to Pueblo last month for the project’s groundbreaking.
“Many communities that the AVC will serve rely entirely on groundwater, and several have faced drinking water contamination from naturally-occurring radionuclides. The clean, safe drinking water that these communities need is long overdue. The generational investments provided through the [Bipartisan Infrastructure Law] should help accelerate delivery of this project for those who have already waited generations for safe, reliable water,” wrote Hickenlooper and Bennet.
The senators urged Reclamation to tap into the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, appropriations, and other appropriate sources, asking the agency to:“accelerate the timeline for the AVC’s completion and start delivering water to the nearly 40 communities that it will support.”
The Arkansas Valley Conduit is a planned 130-mile water-delivery system from the Pueblo Reservoir to as many as 40 rural communities and 50,000 Coloradans throughout the Arkansas River Valley in Southeast Colorado. The Conduit is the final phase of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, which Congress authorized in 1962.
Hickenlooper and Bennet have consistently advocated for increased funding for the AVC. In January, Hickenlooper and Bennet joined in a letter to urge Reclamation to allocate additional resources through annual appropriations and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding. Hickenlooper and Bennet also requested funding for the project in this year’s FY24 omnibus spending bill. In October 2022, the senators celebrated an announcement of $60 million in new funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support the completion of the Conduit. The senators also secured $10.1 million for the project in the FY23 omnibus spending bill, which was signed into law in December, and $10.5 million in the FY22 omnibus spending bill. Hickenlooper and Bennet will continue working in Washington to ensure Colorado has the resources needed to complete this vital project for the region.
View the full letter HERE or below:
Dear Commissioner Touton,
Thank you for your visit to Southeastern Colorado last month for the Arkansas Valley Conduit (AVC) groundbreaking. We were glad to mark that historic day with you, along with leaders from the State of Colorado and the Southeastern Water Conservancy District, in an active demonstration of the partnership and shared commitment that is fundamental to the AVC. After a six-decade effort to provide reliable drinking water supplies for Southeastern Colorado, we were pleased to host you at the beginning of construction for a project that will deliver clean water to 50,000 Coloradans.
The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) also demonstrated its commitment to completing the AVC with $60 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funds last year. As you consider the next round of BIL disbursements, we urge you to provide a robust increase in Reclamation’s investments in the AVC to help expedite this project. Many communities that the AVC will serve rely entirely on groundwater, and several have faced drinking water contamination from naturally-occurring radionuclides. The clean, safe drinking water that these communities need is long overdue. The generational investments provided through the BIL should help accelerate delivery of this project for those who have already waited generations for safe, reliable water.
We appreciate the continued funding for the AVC included in Reclamation’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget request, consistent with last year’s enacted levels. In future budget proposals, we request you increase the funding level for this project, to accelerate the timeline for the AVC’s completion and start delivering water to the nearly 40 communities that it will support.
State and local partners have provided substantial contributions to ensure the AVC’s completion, including $100 million in past state financing and grants, and $20 million in additional funding that was recently approved by the Colorado state legislature in SB23-177. We strongly urge Reclamation to continue this spirit of accelerated and robust investment, relying on BIL, appropriations, and other appropriate funding sources.
We look forward to continuing our partnership on the AVC and completing this project.