After decades of stalls, a Lower Arkansas River Valley water project could finally start this year. (Or next.)

Courtesy Bureau of Reclamation
The Arkansas Valley Conduit (AVC) is a major infrastructure project that upon completion will convey a reliable municipal and industrial water supply from Pueblo Reservoir to 40 communities serving a projected future population of 50,000 in Southeastern Colorado via pipelines. The area includes water providers in Bent, Crowley, Kiowa, Otero, Prowers, and Pueblo counties.

Work on the long-awaited Arkansas Valley Conduit could begin this year, bringing much-needed clean drinking water from the Pueblo Reservoir to six counties in the Lower Arkansas River Valley, serving an estimated 50,000 people.

At this point, progress on the pipeline really depends on some paperwork and signatures from the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Pueblo Water and the Bureau of Reclamation, according to Sam Braverman, who manages the project for the bureau. There's also a public comment period on the draft plan open through the end of this month.

"There's thousands of people in the Lower Arkansas Valley that literally can't drink the water from their tap, because it's contaminated with radionuclides -- things like radium and uranium -- and the AVC is going to bring them a reliable long term, clean drinking water supply," Braverman said.

The conduit was authorized in the 1960s, but has stalled off and on because of funding issues.

"I know there's probably still skepticism out there in the valley about whether or not this is really gonna happen, but people will start seeing pipe put in the ground hopefully later this year or at the latest early 2023," Braverman said.

 In total, the project could cost as much as $610 million.