Future depends on Ute pipeline

By Gayla Brumfield: Guest columnist

The Ute Water Project began in 1964 when the Interstate Stream Commission created the Ute Reservoir at Logan to provide a future sustainable water resource for the residents of eastern New Mexico.

The reservoir was created due to the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer caused by increased usage on the eastern side of the state. The city of Clovis sits on the western edge of the Ogallala, which covers several states including parts of eastern New Mexico.

Because of the foresight of the Interstate Stream Commission, the Ute Water Commission was created to work with the ISC on its water reservation in the reservoir. Later, the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority (ENMRWA) was created to work on the Ute Pipeline Project to provide for the long-term sustainability of communities on the eastern side of the state.

The communities involved in the project include Clovis, Portales, Melrose, Grady, Texico, Elida and Curry County

Approximately 10 years ago, the city of Clovis — which has a 75 percent share of the water that will come through the pipeline — became increasingly involved in ensuring the project came to fruition.

Last March, a huge milestone was reached when President Obama signed Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s Omnibus Bill, which included the authorization of the Ute Pipeline Project. And we are thankful to Sen. Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall and Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, who have all been very supportive of this project.

The project is at 30 percent design and the ENMRWA is nearing completion of the environmental assessment phase. The Authority is also working with our legislative delegation for appropriations to complete the design and begin construction of this project.

The ENMRWA has received stimulus funding to construct an intake structure at Ute Reservoir and is working diligently to receive appropriation funding.

This project is essential to ensure a sustainable water resource for future generations of eastern New Mexicans. In the meantime, we need to do everything we can to conserve our most valuable resource — water.

For tips on how you can play your part in conserving water, please contact New Mexico American Water Authority or city administration at 769-7828.