History was made at the Pueblo Dam Friday as officials kick off one of the largest water supply projects in Colorado.
It’s something that has been 20 years in the making, and one that will impact lives for decades into the future.
Major construction is now underway on the Southern Delivery System (SDS). It’s a regional water project that is one of the largest in the state to be built in decades.
With 62 miles of underground pipeline, water will be delivered from the Pueblo Reservoir to residents in four communities: Pueblo West, Colorado Springs, Security and Fountain.
Officials from all four communities and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation commemorated the historic event with a special ceremony at the base of the Pueblo Dam Friday.
“This project has been so carefully considered, so hard won, and so well worth it,” said Mayor of Fountain Jeri Howells.
Guests paid witness to the crews hard at work on the project at the Pueblo dam. Something Former Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera worked 8 years in office to see.
“I just feel tremendous satisfaction and tremendous hope for the future of Colorado Springs and the entire region of Southern Colorado,” said Rivera.
SDS officials say the much anticipated project will ensure reliability.
“This system will back all of our other systems. Some of them are a half a century old and they need to be taken down. At this point, some of our major systems can’t be taken down for very long or we run short of water,” said John Fredell, Program Director SDS, Colorado Springs Utilities.
Children, who represent the first generation to use this water supply, marked the historic day by placing items from 2011 in a time capsule, that won’t be opened for 40 years.
“Excitement is what I’m feeling, because in a few years I get to open up this things and its really cool,” said Kelly Riley.
Others marked the day by writing their names on a pipe that will be put on display at the newly created water treatment plant.
The construction celebration took place 49 years and two days after President John F. Kennedy stood in Pueblo to dedicate the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, of which Pueblo Reservoir is a component.
SDS is one of the largest water supply projects underway in the western United States. At full capacity it would be able to deliver 96 million gallons of water per day to the region, meaning residents in these four communities would have a stable supply of water for decades to come.
SDS will also provide jobs. Phase 1 construction will put around 786 people to work in the region. It would also result in $127.6 million in earnings to El Paso County residents and $35.5 million to Pueblo County residents.
Phase I of construction will cost roughly $880 million. It also includes three pump stations and a water treatment plant. Future phases would include a terminal storage reservoir and an exchange reservoir, as well as expanded pumping and treatment capacity.
Officials expect the project to be completed by 2016. Work on the SDS connection to the Pueblo Dam and raw-water pipeline construction in El Paso County began this year.
For more information about the Southern Delivery System, visit www.sdswater.org.