The Southern Delivery System supplements Colorado Springs Utilities' 50-year-old, 76-mile pipeline that's had seven outages in the last 10 years. When finished in 2016, a 62-mile underground pipeline will provide citizens in southern Colorado with an estimated 96 mgd of water each day and bring jobs to the area. Photo: SDS

Work on the Southern Delivery System (SDS) project — a new water-delivery system to decrease southern Colorado's dependence on the Colorado River — has begun at the base of the Pueblo Dam in Pueblo, Colo. When completed in 2016, the system will supply residents of Colorado Springs, Fountain, Security, and Pueblo West with 96 million gallons of drinking water each day.

One of the largest supply projects in the western United States, the system will transport water from the Pueblo Reservoir through 62 miles of underground pipeline. Budgeted at $880 million, the first phase also includes three pump stations, two reservoirs, and a treatment plant. Future phases include building a terminal storage reservoir and exchange reservoir and expanding pumping and treatment capacity.

The project kicked off 49 years after President John F. Kennedy dedicated the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, of which Pueblo Reservoir is a component. Project partners have long-term contracts with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to store, convey, and exchange water via the system, which will connect to the federal facility.

With development fees having increased by 138% since 2002, Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) is raising rates 12% every year of construction. However, managers of the regional partnership are saving at least $500 million by deploying a design that incorporates water rights they already own.

“This is a project that will provide water for generations,” says CSU Chief Executive Officer Jerry Forte. “It's a major part of the legacy our generation will leave for the next.”