By Vera Ortegon
It began in 1962, when then-President John F. Kennedy came to Pueblo to promote his approval and passage of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Water Reclamation Project.
That project, and our president, promised water storage, water diversion, water delivery, and clean and safe drinking water for Southeast Colorado.
While most of President Kennedy’s promises have come to fruition, one has remained woefully unfulfilled. The $600 million needed for the Arkansas Valley Conduit (AVC) — the portion of the project that promised clean and safe drinking water for Southeast Colorado — has never been appropriated by Congress.
But not because of a lack of effort. In the 2000s, Colorado’s great Senator Wayne Allard tried to get the federal government interested in this project after being shelved for over 25 years.
While he made great progress, funding was never allocated. That is until U.S. Rep Cory Gardner, R-Colo. — better known today as U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner — took the project and made it his No. 1 funding priority.
Thanks to Gardner, funding for the AVC has now become a reality.
In the 2018 federal budget, funding for the AVC was cut. So, Gardner got to work …. and voila! Funds for the AVC were reinstated.
Fast forward to the 2019 federal budget, and same story, same outcome. Funds were reinstated, after being cut again, for the AVC — thanks to Gardner.
Due to Gardner’s strong standing in Washington, D.C., and his relationship with the White House, in February 2020, Gardner was able to proactively secure $28 million for the AVC project in the 2020 federal budget. This money is particularly important for the AVC project as it is earmarked for final design and pre-construction costs for the conduit. As such, this $28 million is a crucial step to catapult this project into reality and completion.
To keep things in perspective, when completed, the AVC will carry clean drinking water to about 50,000 individuals in Southeast Colorado from the Pueblo Dam through a 130-mile pipeline to Lamar and Eads.
On Feb. 4, 2020, Gardner was in Pueblo and stated at the AVC announcement:
The communities of the Lower Arkansas Valley deserve clean drinking water, which the Arkansas Valley Conduit will supply for generations to come. This is the first time robust federal funding of $28 million has been dedicated to the project, which will help finish final design, pre-construction costs, and begin construction to get to the first community in need.
It is during these difficult times we need to remember and appreciate those individuals who serve others, especially the most vulnerable within our communities. Thanks in large part to Gardner’s tireless efforts in Washington, D.C., 50,000 Colorado residents are a significant step closer to clean and safe water.
I personally want to take this opportunity to thank him for his endless dedication to clean drinking water for Southeast Colorado.Read the Article Here