Senator Has Worked for Over a Decade to Support This Critical Water Infrastructure Project
COLORADO SPRINGS – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet met with the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District to discuss the progress being made on the Arkansas Valley Conduit and the project’s needs moving forward. Bennet has played an important role in this critical water infrastructure project for over a decade and remains committed to pushing the project forward.
“As a Congressional Delegation we’ve worked with community leaders and the Southeastern Water Conservancy District to put politics aside and make sure Congress continues to fund the Arkansas Valley Conduit,” said Bennet. “This project is about delivering clean drinking water to dozens of communities in the Lower Arkansas Valley. We remain committed to that effort.”
“It was great to meet with Senator Bennet today to discuss the next phase of the Arkansas Valley Conduit,” said David Howard, Mayor of the Town of Cheraw. “We are grateful for his continued leadership in Congress to secure the funding for this project to move forward. This is critically important to communities with small providers that simply don't have the funding to deal with water quality issues for their residents across the Arkansas Valley.”
“The residents of the Lower Arkansas Valley are appreciative of Senator Bennet’s ongoing support––he’s been with us since very beginning of his term,” said Bill Long, Board President, Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District. “The legislation he co-sponsored set forth the mechanism that will provide funding for the Conduit. The support of the entire delegation and Senator Bennet’s leadership has enabled us to look forward to the start of construction.”
Since coming to the Senate, Bennet has fought for, and successfully secured, resources to plan, design, and move forward on construction of the Conduit. 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, agricultural producers, and municipalities throughout southeastern Colorado. Bennet and former U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) worked together to enact legislation in 2009 authorizing the construction of the Conduit, and Bennet has pushed ever since for funding to keep the project on schedule.
Background on Bennet’s efforts:
- Congress passed legislation Bennet led with Udall 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.
- Bennet sent a letter to the Bureau of Reclamation with Udall to quickly approve the Conduit’s Environmental Impact Study (EIS) in order to expedite the project’s completion. The BOR signed the Record of Decision in February 2014 after Bennet’s push.
- 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 Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 for the Conduit.
- Bennet also secured language in the FY 2015 Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act that sent a clear signal to the Bureau of Reclamation that the Conduit should be a priority project.
- Bennet secured an additional $2 million from the Bureau of Reclamation’s reprogrammed funding for that fiscal year, after the project had initially received only $500,000.
- Bennet secured $3 million for the Conduit as part of the FY 2017 Energy & Water Appropriations bill.
- Bennet also introduced a bill with U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) that would allow the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservation District to more easily pay for its portion of the Conduit’s construction costs.
- Bennet secured $3 million for the Conduit for FY 2017.
- Bennet secured $3 million for the Conduit for FY 2018.
- In April, Bennet and Gardner wrote to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), urging them to prioritize funding for the Conduit.
- Bennet, Gardner, Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO-3), and Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO-04) wrote to the Department of the Interior urging the Department to support the project.
- Bennet secured approximately over $10 million each year for the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, which includes the Arkansas Valley Conduit, in FY19 and FY20 spending bills.
- BOR announced that the Arkansas Valley Conduit will receive $28 million to finalize design and begin construction on the project in the Lower Arkansas Valley.