Some Portales officials concerned about cost of Ute water project

By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Some Portales city officials are concerned the rising costs of the Ute Water Project could force other communities to drop out.

D.K. Shafer of the Portales Finance Committee recommends city officials meet with officials from the remaining eight entities to see if they want to continue with the project.

Tucumcari, San Jon, Logan and Quay County have dropped out of the proposed $300-million project that would pipe drinking water from Ute Lake near Logan to the Clovis-Portales area.

The annual service contract proposal for the project has more than tripled to $443,472 in the last year, according to Portales city officials, who met Monday to discuss the project.

GC Engineering Inc. of Albuquerque placed the only bid.
Portales would have to pay $92,657 and Clovis $331,736 for the management services.

Rick Hauptmann of the Portales Finance Committee also suggested that if a contract is agreed to with GC Engineering Inc., there needs to be a monthly activity report.
Under the current proposal, the federal government would pay for 80 percent of the project with the state and Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority.

When there were 12 ENMRWA members involved, the portion Portales had to pay for the construction and design was $4.6 million and for Clovis was $11.6 million.

Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega is concerned the cost of the project will continue to rise if it is postponed or delayed but feels optimistic of the unity of the remaining eight entities.

“We feel very strong about our plan,” Ortega said. “I believe the remaining entities feel the same.”

Ortega said trips to Washington D.C. by Ute Water lobbyists will be made this year and is hopeful to have a decision on federal funding by this year or 2006. Ortega has previously said the City of Portales can’t go through with the project without federal funding.