A nearly $43 million contract was awarded to a Colorado construction company marking the “first giant step” in the Arkansas Valley Conduit project designed to bring clean drinking water to eastern Pueblo County and southeastern Colorado.
The federal Bureau of Reclamation awarded the inaugural contract for the conduit to WCA Construction LLC, for $42.9 million to cover construction of the first 6-mile section of the 30-inch trunk line that extends from the eastern end of Pueblo Water’s system toward Boone. Located in Towaoc, the construction company is owned by the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and as a tribal enterprise the company employs a workforce that is 70% indigenous.
“This is the first giant step in this project,” said Chris Woodka, senior policy and issues manager for the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District. “The goal is to connect each community as the trunk line reaches them, and constructing the delivery lines will be what the district is responsible for.”
Since 2020 the federal government has appropriated $51 million toward the project, with those funds paying for the trunk line construction. Pueblo County has awarded $1.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to connect the communities of Avondale and Boone to the trunk line, Woodka said.
Work under the initial contract will begin in the spring of 2023 and is expected to be completed in 2024.
“We are now in the process of designing those connection lines, then we will be putting those lines in. We hope everything is connected to Boone and Avondale by the end of 2024,” Woodka said.
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That will bring water to about 1,600 Avondale residents and 230 Boone residents. Currently, many people in the areas that will be served by the conduit rely on groundwater supplies that may be contaminated by naturally occurring radionuclides, such as radium and uranium, or use shallow wells that contain harmful microorganisms and pollutants.
“Now more than ever, people in the Arkansas River Valley understand the immense value of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project and the Arkansas Valley Conduit,” said Jeff Rieker, Eastern Colorado area manager for the Bureau of Reclamation. “We look forward to the day when these residents can open the faucet and know that their drinking water is safe and healthy.”
“The Arkansas Valley Conduit is so vitally important to the health of the people who live here and to the economy of the Lower Arkansas Valley,” said Bill Long, president of the Southeastern District. “We are excited construction is getting underway after so many years of effort by generations of people who worked to get this built.”
The conduit was authorized in the original Fryingpan-Arkansas Project legislation in 1962.
More conduit news:Ark Valley Conduit project launched
Chieftain reporter Tracy Harmon covers business news. She can be reached by email at [email protected] or via Twitter at twitter.com/tracywumps.