Colorado Springs Utilities is commemorating the start of major construction on the Southern Delivery System with an invitation-only celebration Friday at Pueblo Dam.
SDS is a 62-mile pipeline designed to pump water uphill from Pueblo Dam to Colorado Springs. The project, which will cost ratepayers $2.3 billion in construction and financing costs, will serve Colorado Springs residents for decades to come. The pipeline, which will also serve the neighboring communities of Fountain, Pueblo West and Security, will deliver up to 96 million gallons of water a day at full capacity.
“It’s one of the largest water projects to be built in the state of Colorado in quite a few years and it may be one of the last, so it’s pretty significant that we finally have construction under way,” SDS spokeswoman Janet Rummel said Wednesday.
Friday’s celebration will include multiple speakers, including Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, former Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera, Fountain Mayor Jeri Howells and John Cordova, chair of the Pueblo County Board of Commissioners, among others.
Children from Colorado Springs, Fountain, Pueblo West and Security will participate in the event by contributing to a time-capsule for the project, Rummel said. Their participation is meant to “signify that this is what the project is all about,” she said.
Rummel said Utilities sent more than 400 invitations to people across the state and has received about 130 responses so far.
Even though Colorado Springs ratepayers who are paying for the project didn’t get an individual invitation, Rummel said Utilities would not turn anyone away.
“If people from our community wanted to attend, they’re welcome to,” she said. “It would be hard to accommodate a large crowd, a larger crowd than we were anticipating.”
Rummel initially said the celebration would cost less than $10,000. In a follow-up email, she said the cost was less than $8,000.
“Based on an estimate of 175 guests, we estimate the cost of the event at less than $8,000. This includes the invitations/mailing, time capsule, podium/sound system, tent and chairs, light food and beverages, portable restrooms, and a professional photographer to document the historic occasion — similar to photos that were taken of the Homestake project in the 1960s. We also purchased a permit from State Parks for use of the area for the event,” she wrote in the email.
“Most major construction projects have a ground-breaking ceremony. Many people from around the region and the state have played a significant role in advancing this critical project for our community over the last 20 years, and they deserve to be formally recognized and thanked,” she added.
Friday’s ceremony starts at 9:45 a.m., but people are encouraged to show up by 9:30 a.m. It will be on the east side of Pueblo Reservoir, area south of the Arkansas River and the State Park entrance station.