Salazar, Markey, Bennet secure cash to clean up water wells

As if we didn’t already know this, here’s this civics lesson again:  it does matter what committee appointments your representatives snag.

Wednesday, 3rd District Congressman John Salazar, Congresswoman Betsy Markey, and Senator Michael Bennet announced that they had finally secured $5 million in federal funding to begin work on the Arkansas Valley Conduit—a supply line to carry water from the Pueblo Dam to Lamar.

The announcement came shortly after the Pueblo Chieftan cheered John Salazar’s appointment to the conference committee for the 2010 energy and water appropriations bill—which ultimately authorized the funding. The Colorado congressman represents many of the communities that would be served by the conduit.

The conduit will eventually bring clean drinking water to up to 42 communities in the lower Arkansas valley—many of whom have wells naturally contaminated with radon or uranium. New water quality standards from the Colorado Department of Health and the Environment have suddenly put those communities out of compliance. And the cost of removing radium and uranium is high, because it creates toxic waste.

Wrote the Pueblo Chieftan in 2006:

Of the 42 communities considering the conduit, 15 are in violation of uranium standards of 20 parts per million, and some also are under state compliance orders for radium.

The first round of conduit funding will be used for the environmental analysis, planning and design.

The conduit was originally authorized in 1962, as part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, but it was never built because the communities east of Pueblo could not afford the cost.

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