By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer
TEXICO —All of southeastern New Mexico will soon fall under a critical management area that could impose metering on ground water, according to State Engineer John D’Antonio.
D’Antonio spoke Wednesday at the New Mexico Rural Water Authority meeting about how the state’s newly created Water Cabinet will change application for funding from the state for water projects. The Authority also heard from state Sen. John Ryan, R-Albuquerque, about the status of the Ute Water Project at the federal level.
The project would pipe water from the Ute reservoir in Quay county to eight public entities in eastern New Mexico.
Projections for next year indicate poor moisture conditions in the area, according to D’Antonio, who will work with the newly created Water Cabinet.
D’Antonio said the Water Cabinet is still drafting what rulings it would impose but metering of water from underground basins used mostly for farming in the area is a possibility within the next year.
“It’s a better way to address economic development,” he said. “It’s meant to look at the available supply and the best way to utilize that supply.”
The Water Cabinet is also restructuring the funding application process for water projects. The process includes a uniform application form and state agencies will determine the best source of funding, which it will recommend to the Legislature and the Water Trust Board.
The state funding is key to obtaining federal attention to the Ute Water Project, Ryan said.
“This next year is critical (for the Ute Water Project),” he said.
D’Antonio said he was putting in a $4 million capital outlay request from the state engineer’s office on behalf of the Ute Water Project. He is also requesting $6.5 million from the Water Trust Board for the project.
“If we get that $10 million it will go a long way to show the federal government the project is moving in the right direction,” he said.