Final SDS pipe arrives for installation

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Dignitaries and others were on hand Wednesday to mark the arrival of the final piece of pipe in the 50-mile water pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir to a water treatment plant, under construction, on the city's east side. - JOHN WARK
  • John Wark
  • Dignitaries and others were on hand Wednesday to mark the arrival of the final piece of pipe in the 50-mile water pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir to a water treatment plant, under construction, on the city's east side.

Despite overpaying for homes that didn't wind up in the path of the project, despite making a lot of enemies in Pueblo County by cutting through backyards, despite court challenges over questions of discharged water through Fountain Creek, despite all that, the Southern Delivery System is finally almost done.

On Wednesday, Colorado Springs Utilities staged an event south of town with the symbolic arrival of the final piece of the pipeline, which will extend from Pueblo Reservoir to a water treatment plant east of the city, which is under construction.

Water is to be delivered starting next year.

Termed one of the largest water projects in the entire western United States, the project dates back more than a decade and involved an elaborate permitting process involving the Bureau of Reclamation, Pueblo County, state authorities and others.

The city started building the pipeline in 2010. Water rates have gone up multiple years to help fund the project, which will be done on time and under budget, Utilities officials say. Here's more from a news release:

Community leaders, contractors and partner communities celebrated the end of pipeline construction today at a site adjacent to a recently completed pipe-tunneling project. One of the most challenging sections of SDS construction, the mile-long tunnel was bored 85 feet below Interstate I-25, Fountain Creek and two sets of railroad tracks. Installing the pipe in a tunnel versus a surface trench saved about $10 million and significantly reduced environmental impacts. See tunneling video. 

More than 7,000 50-foot sections of mostly 66-inch diameter, welded-steel blue pipe were installed over the past 3.5 years in areas that included residential neighborhoods in Pueblo West. Extensive revegetation has been done throughout the project to restore land disturbed by construction.

The conclusion of pipeline construction brings this $841 million project – including $204 million of that spent on pipe and installation – one step closer to delivering water next year. The pipe will transport water stored in Pueblo Reservoir north to Colorado Springs, the second largest city in the state, and to the growing southern Colorado communities of Pueblo West, Fountain and Security, serving as many as three-quarters of a million residents through 2040.

“The pipe is the main artery for this water project and we are extremely pleased with how the pipeline construction went,” said John Fredell, SDS Program Director. “This is our final year of construction on SDS and we’re projecting completion nearly $150 million under budget.”

Denver-based Northwest Pipe manufactured the SDS pipe. Three prime contractors selected through competitive bid processes managed the installation of different sections through Pueblo and El Paso County. Garney Construction installed 23 miles of SDS pipeline in various areas, including work at Lake Pueblo State Park, Pueblo West, at the tunnel location, and in Colorado Springs. Pueblo County-based ASI/HCP Constructors built the Pueblo Dam Connection and installed nearly five miles of pipe through Lake Pueblo State Park and about nine miles of pipe in southern El Paso County east of Fountain; and Layne Heavy Civil put in about eight miles of pipe in Pueblo County and six miles in El Paso County.

Approximately 140 local businesses supported the three prime contractors on the pipeline construction.
Through the end of 2014, an estimated $514 million has gone to more than 390 businesses and entities in Colorado for planning and work on SDS. Of that, $316 million was spent in southern Colorado.

“Over the last three years, the sight of blue pipe on semi-trucks heading south meant prosperity for local businesses and a more secure water future for Colorado Springs and its partners’ communities,” said Fredell.

Construction is underway on a $125-million water treatment plant and finished water pump station that will be able to treat 50 million gallons of water a day. Three raw water pump stations, which will transport water 1,500 feet in elevation from Pueblo Reservoir, also are under construction. Construction on these facilities are expected to be complete by the end of 2015.

For more information about the Southern Delivery System, visit www.SDSWater.org.


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