Bipartisan Letters Urge Administration and Appropriators to Allocate Sufficient Resources for Critical Southeast Colorado Water Project
Hours after precise funding levels for the Arkansas Valley Conduit were released, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall and U.S. Representatives Scott Tipton and Cory Gardner urged the Administration and both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees to make more resources available to allow the Conduit’s construction to move ahead as planned.
In budget numbers released late last night, the Administration, for the second year in a row, proposed insufficient funding ($500,000) to advance the 130-mile water-delivery project forward.
In letters to Administration officials and both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, the lawmakers wrote, “The budget numbers released for Fiscal Year 2014 and 2015 are troubling…At a time when planners are trying to scale up significantly and move forward toward the construction stage, the Administration budget figures have threatened to delay work on this critical priority. Coloradans simply can’t afford that delay.”
The lawmakers called the Conduit a “top priority” and reminded the Administration and the Appropriations Committees that “the federal government has repeatedly promised to build this Conduit.”
Members of the delegation have fought annually for the necessary resources to move the project forward. However, the just-released FY 2015 budget request only includes $500,000. Project planners have reported they will need $14 million in FY 2015 to keep the project on schedule with a target date to break ground in 2016.
The Arkansas Valley Conduit is the final component of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, a water diversion and storage project in the lower Arkansas Valley. Once constructed, the Conduit will deliver clean drinking water to families, producers and municipalities throughout Southeastern Colorado. Legislation passed in 2009 authorized the construction of the Conduit and committed to fund a substantial share of the project costs.
As the Senators and Congressmen point out in these letters, many of the wells in the communities that would be served by this conduit have been contaminated by radon or uranium. The lawmakers wrote: “Because of federal standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment regulators have raised concern with the current quality of drinking water in the region – and in some cases, cited small, local water providers with non-compliance with these federally set standards . . .Simply put, the status quo isn’t sustainable.”
To view the letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Environmental Protection Agency, CLICK HERE.
To view the letter to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, CLICK HERE.