Council Discusses Ark Valley Conduit Funding



What began as an idea for improving water quality for southeast Colorado residents back in 1962 has gone through numerous stages of planning, design, EPA studies and funding resources.  It’s still on the table, connecting stored water in Pueblo Dam to share with communities connected to the main trunk and spur lines as part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project.  At that time, communities would be expected to finance 100% of the cost, but never began due to the price tag.  Now, federal funding will take up the majority of the project, currently estimated at $476M and the delivery line is estimated at from $60M to $120M for participants.  The current timeline puts the completed project at 2034.  Lamar is the last town on the mainline stop, with delivery right to the city’s water storage tanks where final treatment will take place before citizens turn on the taps.  The city will receive potable water through the conduit, but will need final treatment before local distribution.  At the moment, Prowers County is facing enforcement actions from the state health department because of radionuclides in May Valley water. The conduit will reduce violations for selenium and other contaminants in wastewater discharge.

During the city council’s August 23rd work session, the focus was on the latest financial ‘ask’ for potential participants, approximately $90,000 for Lamar’s spur/connection off the main trunk line and where the city could find those funds.  Mayor Crespin told the council, “I spoke with the S.E. Colorado Water Conservation District and they suggested that Lamar’s share for the engineering design on the delivery system would be around $90,000.”  The plan is to have the city’s distribution system built and ready to use by the time the conduit reaches Lamar

The city will receive $1.9M over two years as part of the ARP, American Recovery Plan, initiated by the federal government to offset economic losses to cities due to the pandemic.  The council is considering using that funding, to be paid equally over two years, to finance the cost of a Public Safety Building.  But already, those pending funds are attracting attention for additional purposes.  City Treasurer, Kristin McCrea cautioned there could be other funding for various water projects the city could qualify for and those avenues should be explored before committing ARP financing.  “We still need to find out if DoLA, (Department of Local Affairs) will approve the use of those funds for the Safety Building,” she explained.

Crespin offered a comparison between current ditch water distribution and using the conduit.  “We have water stored in the Pueblo Dam, but we’ve dipped into our allocation over the past few years because of the drought, so we’ve gone from a ten year estimate down to two years.  We experience a water loss of about 50% due to evaporation from the ditch delivery, so for a 1,000 acre foot release, we get only about half of that for our use.  With the conduit, we should receive at least 95% of our allocations.”

The council expressed concerns over the cost and duration of construction period, noting that 2034 is a long way off and fearful that despite the funding from the city, something could occur over the next 13 years that prevents the conduit from being built.  The council determined it would approve a memorandum of understanding for the $90,000 donation, but wanted performance guarantees included to safeguard the city’s investments.  City Attorney, Lance Clark, will draw up an agreement for council review.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesEnvironmentFeaturedHealthPublic SafetyUtilitiesWater


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