by Pam Zubeck
Colorado Springs Utilities' disputes with landowners in Pueblo West have gotten all the ink lately, but there's progress to report on the city's massive pipeline project.
The city recently stalemated with some landowners over offers the city made to acquire easements under which the pipeline would be built. City Council told Utilities officials to make another run at negotiations before thinking about going to court.
The issue is the Southern Delivery System, over a decade in the planning, which got under construction last year.
The line, from Pueblo Reservoir, will initially increase the city's water supply by a quarter by 2016 and by a third sometime later. The total cost, including financing charges, comes to $2.3 billion, and water rates already have gone up to start paying for it.
For a project that has slogged along through the courts, through hearing rooms and front-porch negotiations with landowners for years, it's always worthwhile to take stock of what is happening to push ahead on the project.
Utilities spokeswoman Janet Rummel reports that pre-construction work for the dam connection is moving ahead. This project includes site assessments and custom fabrication of the valves and stainless steel liner.
"The underwater divers have completed their preliminary assessment and will be conducting additional work once we have a notice to proceed from the Bureau of Reclamation to commence the major construction activities," she reports in an e-mail. "This work is still scheduled to begin this year, however as you referenced, we are still working with Reclamation to finalize the long-term contracts."
While the city reached agreement on storage, conveyance and exchange rates with the Bureau of Reclamation through negotiations last year, three contract revisions remain unresolved, she says.
1. Provisions that address "appropriation of funds" language that would be consistent with the Colorado Springs City Charter.
2. Participation in market based pricing, so that if the Bureau ever adopts criteria for such a policy for use of excess capacity in Fryingpan-Arkansas Project facilities, the Southern Delivery System project partners want the SDS contract to be re-evaluated under the new criteria.
3. Storage schedule for the 38-year contract term.
Meanwhile, a segment of pipeline along Marksheffel Road is nearly complete, with crews working on site restoration.
A four-mile pipeline segment south of the Springs has been contracted and construction will begin this spring, Rummel says. HCP Constructors, based in of Pueblo West, was awarded the $10 million contract.
Here's a list of all the contractors who are prequalified to bid on SDS pipeline work: