The commencement of the project culminates decades of planning and nearly six years of construction.

SDS is a regional project that includes 50 miles of pipeline, three raw water pump stations, a water treatment plant, and a finished water pump station.

It will be capable, in its first phase, of delivering up to 50 million gallons of water per day.

Colorado Springs Utilities Chief Executive Officer Jerry Forte said: "SDS is one of the most important projects many of us will ever work on.

"This is a legacy project – one that benefits so many people today, tomorrow and for generations to come. This is an amazing day for our organization and for southern Colorado."

The state’s second largest city, Colorado Springs is not located on a major water source. The Southern Delivery System (SDS), named for the route the water travels, is the single largest infrastructure project built in the history of Colorado Springs Utilities.

Not only does SDS meet the immediate and future water needs of Colorado Springs and its project partners Fountain, Security and Pueblo West through 2040, it also increases system reliability should other parts of the water system need maintenance or repairs.

The project will also help provide drought protection, a significant benefit in the arid west.

Construction started in 2010 and concluded in 2016. Originally forecast to cost just under $1 billion, SDS started on time and is more than $160 million under budget, costing $825 million.

SDS Program Director John Fredell said: "On time and under budget are words rarely used to describe large infrastructure projects.

"We adopted a philosophy that ‘these are ratepayer dollars’ and managed the project with exceptional rigor. It was the responsible approach to spending hundreds of millions of dollars of public money."

Water projects are difficult to permit and expensive to build in the western United States.

SDS was no exception. SDS was required to provide $50 million in mitigation payments to the Fountain Creek Watershed District, funding for sediment control, habitat improvements and other environmental mitigation measures.

Colorado Springs and Pueblo County, just this week, approved an intergovernmental agreement requiring Colorado Springs to invest $460 million over 20 years to improve storm water management.