Water authority looks ahead to funds

By Jack King

TEXICO — Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority’s board on Wednesday approved two proposals aimed at helping secure federal funding.
Officials have said the Ute Water project will cost about $250 million and the board hopes 80 percent of funds will come from the federal government.
A request is expected to go before Congress early next year, program Manager Scott Verhines said.
One proposal approved Wednesday is for an Arizona company to work with water authority communities on a rate plan and a willingness and ability to pay study. That could cost $25,000;
Another proposal approved is for a peer review of the project’s conceptual design report. That could cost $27,900.
Meanwhile, the board does not have funds to pay for the studies it approved, and some board members objected to entering into contracts without the money in hand.
Clovis Mayor and ENMRWA board president David Lansford said a contract between the Ute Water Commission and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation provides enough funds. But the contract is administered by the Eastern Plains Council of Governments. Lansford said he has not been successful in getting EPCOG Executive Director Lee Tillman to attend an ENMRWA meeting to discuss the matter.
“I just have other responsibilities and my schedule has made it difficult to make (the authority’s) last two or three meetings,” Tillman said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “But, I’m certainly available to the mayor and we’re certainly willing to do whatever it takes to get the project done and to support the water authority.”