Southern Delivery System goes online this week - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Southern Delivery System goes online this week

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Colorado Springs City Councilwoman Jill Gaebler looks over the Edward W. Bailey Water Treatment Plant from atop 10 million gallon holding tank Colorado Springs City Councilwoman Jill Gaebler looks over the Edward W. Bailey Water Treatment Plant from atop 10 million gallon holding tank

We've reached the final chapter of a decades-long project to pump water from Lake Pueblo to customers in Colorado Springs. The new Edward W. Bailey Water Treatment Plant will begin operation on Wednesday. The plant is the last stop for water pumped 50 miles north from the Pueblo Reservoir through the Southern Delivery System pipeline. 

"We have 50 years, really, of our needed drinking water for moving forward and building this town upon," said John Fredell, Southern Delivery System Program Director. "So, it's a wonderful day."

The water that is treated here will flow into the Colorado Springs Utilities municipal water system for the first time on Thursday. 

Utilities Board Chairman Andres Pico said the pipeline secures a critical resource for the community for years to come.

"Colorado Springs is growing at about 1 and a half to two percent per year. Without this plant, we'd be hitting water rationing at about ... the year 2020," Pico said.

For now, the plant will pump an extra 5 million gallons of drinking water per day into the system. Fredell explained it was built to handle flows of up to 50 million gallons per day and was designed with expansion in mind. 

All of the pipeline components and lift stations were built using materials designed for a maximum flow of 100 gallons per day, and the site of treatment plant is large to house a second identical plant.

"The plant is expandable and there is a phase two anticipated and this plant can be expanded to 100 million gallons per day," Fredell said.

The thirstiest day in Colorado Springs history came in the summer of 2001 when demand peaked at roughly 182 million gallons.  Years of drought restrictions that followed have actually reduced overall demand, even during dry summer months.

The SDS project was completed on time and under budget. The final cost ended up at around $825 million, even though Fredell said it was budgeted for an inflation adjusted amount of $985 million.

Raw water pumped through the pipeline is held in a 10 million gallon storage tank. Gravity then feeds the water into the plant where it flows through a series of filters and treatments to remove sediment and kill harmful microbes.

Employees check the the water for quality throughout the process by means of an on site laboratory.

"Our operators are testing the water continuously throughout the different processes so (that) we could make changes as we need to based on those analysis," said Plant Operation Superintendent Chad Sell.

Construction crews are still putting the finishing touches on last minute items. A VIP tour is expected to take place later this summer.

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