Otero County to Serve as Arkansas Valley Conduit Fiscal Agent

Description: We need to do everything we can to help supply good and safe water in Southeast Colorado. - Commissioner Jim Baldwin. (Press Play to Watch Video of Bill Long Speaking to Otero Admin.)

Published: 04/11/2022
Byline: SECO News

Otero County to Serve as Arkansas Valley Conduit Fiscal Agent

Otero County Commissioners ratified an agreement with the Southeastern Colorado Water Activity Enterprise (Enterprise) Monday to serve as the fiscal agent for the Arkansas Valley Conduit (AVC).

The agreement will allow the AVC to access $10 million in grants from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) If the agreement is approved by the CWCB and the Colorado General Assembly.

Otero County Commissioner Rob Oquist stated, “We need to do everything we can to help supply good and safe water in Southeast Colorado”. Commissioner Jim Baldwin echoed his remarks saying “Otero County is happy to help the Enterprise in any way possible. The project is like a dream finally about to come true for all the folks of Southeast Colorado to receive quality drinking water. If it's a Fiscal agent they need then we are happy to help!”

The grants are part of a $100 million finance package approved by the state in 2020. The Enterprise is limited by TABOR restrictions in the amount of state grants it can accept annually, while Otero County voters have approved the ability to administer larger grants. The Enterprise has the ability to administer the $90 million in loans included in the package.

The CWCB grants will help kick off construction of delivery lines which are being constructed by the Enterprise. Under a Project Management Plan with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), federal funds will be used to construct a 130-mile trunk line from Pueblo to Lamar, while the Enterprise is responsible to build the delivery lines that will connect 39 water systems to AVC.

“The agreement with Otero County will allow the state grant funds to be applied to the local part of the AVC, which will allow us to get to work more quickly,” said Enterprise Board President Bill Long. “This project is so vitally important to those water providers who face water quality enforcement action, as well as to all of the people in the Lower Arkansas Valley.

In Otero County, 14 water systems face enforcement action from the Colorado Department of Health and Environmental for elevated levels of naturally occurring radioactive materials in their water supplies. The AVC has long been seen as the most cost-effective and reliable method of dealing with the problem by providing a clean source of drinking water from Pueblo Reservoir.

In March, Reclamation and the Enterprise signed an agreement with the Pueblo Board of Water Works to deliver AVC water from Pueblo Dam to the beginning of the AVC at 36th Lane and U.S. Highway 50 in Pueblo County. The agreement saves millions of dollars in construction costs, and reduces the time needed to reach communities with contaminated water supplies.

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