Ute Water Project tops meeting agenda

By Jack King

Members of the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority will discuss the ability of each community to pay its share of the Ute Water Project at Wednesday’s monthly board meeting in Tucumcari.
The board, which has been moving its meetings around the region, will meet at 2 p.m. in the Tucumcari Civic Center.
Clovis Public Works Director Harry Wang has been working with communities in the rural water group to develop a financial analysis and will present a report on his findings and a possible rate structure for the water authority, said Clovis Mayor David Lansford, who serves as the board’s chairman.
Wang said he would discuss two models of paying for the project, one involving tax increases, a second involving “cost sharing” between some communities, where those who rates increase less might subsidize those with a lesser ability to pay.
Lansford said Michael Conner, an aide to Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., will describe the legislative process required to get federal funds for the proposed project, which would pipe water from Ute Reservoir in Logan to communities in eastern New Mexico.
Also, Miguel Rocha, a representative of the Bureau of Reclamation, will discuss progress on a new cooperative agreement between the bureau and the city of Clovis, which will serve as the project’s fiscal agent. Rocha also will address on-going discussions between the bureau and the Eastern New Mexico Council of Governments over a 1998 cooperative agreement which EPCOG argues should be used to pay at least part of the cost of engineering studies for the project.