In Letter to Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senators Request Over $10 Million to Help Bring Clean Drinking Water to Colorado Communities
Denver – Today, Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper requested continued funding for the Arkansas Valley Conduit (AVC) in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget. In their letter to the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Bennet and Hickenlooper ask for funding in line with the over $10 million proposed in President Joe Biden’s budget.
“The Arkansas Valley Conduit is a planned 130-mile water-delivery system from the Pueblo Dam to communities throughout the Arkansas River Valley in Southeast Colorado,” wrote Bennet and Hickenlooper in their letter to Subcommittee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Ranking Member John Kennedy (R-La.). “The Conduit is the final phase of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, which Congress authorized in 1962.”
They continued: “Stakeholders have worked to finish the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project since Congress first authorized it. Annual funding, like the $10.059 million included in our request for FY23, is an opportunity to shorten the construction timeline for the Conduit and allows federal drinking water standards to be met more quickly providing Coloradans with a secure and safe supply of water.”
This letter comes after Bennet and Hickenlooper helped secure $10.05 million in continued funding for the AVC in the recent FY22 omnibus funding bill. Once this project is complete, it will help bring clean drinking water to over 50,000 Coloradans in over 40 rural communities. Bennet and Hickenlooper will continue working in Washington to ensure communities have the resources needed to complete this vital project for the region.
Since arriving in the Senate, Bennet has continuously advocated to ensure the Arkansas Valley has access to clean water. In 2009, Congress passed legislation by Bennet and former U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) to authorize the construction of the Arkansas Valley Conduit. Bennet worked to secure $5 million in funding to begin construction on the Conduit as part of the Energy and Water Appropriations Conference Report.
In 2013, Bennet and his colleagues sent a letter to the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to quickly approve the Conduit’s Environmental Impact Study (EIS) in order to expedite the project’s completion. In 2014, following Bennet and Udall’s efforts to urge the BOR to quickly approve the Conduit’s EIS, the Record of Decision was signed in February. After the President’s budget included an insufficient level of funding for the project, Bennet led a bipartisan letter urging the administration and the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to allow the Conduit’s construction to move ahead as planned. Bennet successfully urged the Department of Interior to designate $2 million in reprogrammed funding from FY14 for the Conduit. Bennet secured language in the FY15 Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act that sent a clear signal to the BOR that the Conduit should be a priority project.
In 2016, Bennet secured $2 million from the BOR’s reprogrammed funding for FY16. Bennet secured $3 million for the Conduit as part of the FY17 Energy & Water Appropriations bill. In April 2019, Bennet and former U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) wrote to then-Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Feinstein, urging them to prioritize funding for the Conduit. Bennet, Gardner, former U.S. Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), and Congressman Ken Buck (R-Colo.) wrote to the Department of the Interior urging the Department to support the project.
In December 2019, Bennet secured approximately $10 million for the Conduit in the FY20 spending bills. In 2020, Bennet welcomed $28 million from the BOR to begin construction on the AVC to help bring clean drinking water to Colorado communities.
The text of the letter is available HERE and below.
Dear Chairwoman Feinstein and Ranking Member Kennedy:
We write to request funding for the Bureau of Reclamation in fiscal year 2023 (FY23) to continue the on-schedule planning and construction of Colorado’s Arkansas Valley Conduit project (the Conduit). Accordingly, we request continued investment in this project, in line with the $10.059 million provided in the President’s FY23 Budget.
The Arkansas Valley Conduit is a planned 130-mile water-delivery system from the Pueblo Dam to communities throughout the Arkansas River Valley in Southeast Colorado. The Conduit is the final phase of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, which Congress authorized in 1962. Upon completion, it will help bring clean drinking water to more than 50,000 people in over 40 communities in this rural, underserved region of our state.
Stakeholders have worked to finish the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project since Congress first authorized it. Annual funding, like the $10.059 million included in our request for FY23, is an opportunity to shorten the construction timeline for the Conduit and allows federal drinking water standards to be met more quickly providing Coloradans with a secure and safe supply of water.
We join the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, the State of Colorado, and the numerous local water providers in support of the Administration’s FY23 Budget Request for the Arkansas Valley Conduit. These funds would allow stakeholders to partner with the Bureau of Reclamation to perform and maintain on-time delivery of pre-construction activity including updating environmental documents, design activity, contract negotiation, land acquisition, and right of way work.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.