Pueblo, Colo. (KRDO) — Federal and local officials approved a $600 million project earlier this month to provide cleaner water to towns along the Arkansas River east of Pueblo .
The project, called the Arkansas Valley Pipeline, aims to address chemical and mineral contamination of local water supplies that participating communities have been grappling with for decades.
Two weeks ago, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the Pueblo Water Authority and the Southeast Colorado Water District finalized the 130-mile project to fund the start of construction.
The pipeline will carry water from the Pueblo Dam, process it through the Water Authority system, and connect the board’s transmission line to the new line, beginning at the intersection of US 50 and 36 lanes near the Pueblo Airport place.
SCWCD’s Chris Woodka said the pipeline would start near Avondale, just west of the end of the water plate system, and connect to Lamar through the towns of Boone, Fowler, Rocky Ford, La Junta, Las Animas, near the Kansas State Line.
“We’re calling it the main line of water to 39 communities east of the Pueblo, and the region is building water lines for those communities,” he said. “We’re getting loans to help those communities pay to upgrade their infrastructure. , to connect to the pipes and use the water.”
Woodcar said the project was launched when the federal government agreed to cover most of the costs.
“It will also create jobs,” he said. “It’s too early to know how many. We’ll have a better idea when construction starts.”
Pipelines will carry water only for drinking purposes; agricultural water will continue to be transported through ditches, canals and other existing means.
Officials at La Junta said on Thursday they would not comment on the project because they had not yet decided whether to participate in it.
But Destinye Villalobos, whose family owns a ranch north of the pipeline path, said most people would welcome better water — even if they would have to pay more to get it.
“The existing water tasted so hard, very mineral, and you could really tell where it was,” she said. “My dad had to carry a tank in the back of the truck every day to hold water. So instead of having to do that, It would be better for him. My grandparents live out and work on the ranch. I won’t let them drink the water that the cows drink.”
While the project won’t be completed until 2035, communities on the west end of the pipeline could begin receiving water by 2024, Woodka said.