by Pam Zubeck
Colorado Springs Utilities has been up to its eyeballs in controversy over the Drake Power Plant and how much of the city's stormwater backlog it should shoulder.
But in the meantime, Utilities has made significant progress on yesterday's controversy — namely, the Southern Delivery System.
SDS, in the works for more than a decade, will bring a new water supply from Pueblo Reservoir, increasing the city's supply by a third when the first phase goes online in 2016.
Phase 1 includes construction of pipeline and pumps to convey water through portions of Pueblo and El Paso Counties, a new water treatment plant capable of treating 50 million gallons per day, and additions to finished water distribution pipelines to supply treated water to current and future utilities customers. It's costing $1 billion over 40 years and already has caused water rates to go up, although future rate increases might not be as big as earlier thought.
Phase 2 includes building two reservoirs and expanding the water treatment plant. That project won't happen until after 2020.
Here's an update on SDS's progress in 2012:
• Nearly 30 miles of pipeline installed to date — more than half the total pipeline for Phase 1;
• Nearly all pipeline installed in Pueblo County — with only approximately 0.3 miles remaining;
• Completion and successful testing of the new Pueblo Dam connection; • Began construction of the first phase of power supply infrastructure for the future Bradley Pump Station in El Paso County;
• Achieved significant milestone of 500,000 hours worked with no “lost-time” safety incidents;
• Completed 100 percent design on the water treatment plant and worked closely with contractor to competitively bid construction work packages to achieve best possible price;
• Advanced design on the raw water pump stations to 90 percent and restructured procurement approach to maximize competition for construction and deliver best value;
• Acquired all the land needed for construction in Pueblo County with transactions finalized on more than 204 parcels of the nearly 300 total required project-wide;
• Negotiated cooperative agreement with Mountain View Electric Association allowing Colorado Springs Utilities to provide power service to the Williams Creek Pump Station at lower rates and retaining full long-term operational and financial control of this critical asset; and
• Hosted multiple, regional business outreach events to encourage local contractor participation — to date, a total of nearly 170 Colorado businesses have performed work on SDS.
Staff continues to execute a rigorous program management plan to drive for efficiencies and reduce costs in the planning and implementation of the project. The project is currently forecasting completion about $68 million below budget. Greater certainty about the final project cost will be achieved with the execution of construction contracts for the water treatment plant and raw water pump stations, anticipated by early 2013.