Pipeline should satisfy everyone

I am writing on behalf of the village of Logan to explain to the citizens of Curry and Roosevelt counties our position concerning the proposed pipeline that the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority is planning to build to pump water out of Ute Lake.

To begin with, I am sure it will come as no surprise that the village of Logan is not now, nor has it ever been, enthusiastic about the proposed pipeline because our economic survival is dependent upon Ute Lake. We understand, however, that when it comes down to a choice between using Ute Lake for recreational purposes, and it being used to provide drinking water to eastern New Mexico, drinking water has priority.

It is not our intention to prevent the water authority from building a pipeline. We must insist, however, that there be a balance between the economic interests of Logan, Quay County and Curry and Roosevelt counties.

In 1984 the dam’s spillway elevation was raised to 3,787 feet above sea level. In 1994 the Interstate Stream Commission determined there was 24,000 acre-feet of water that could be pumped from the lake annually based upon historical flows into the lake.

The study covered a period of 51 years and the ISC determined that if the minimum pool was set at 3,765 feet above sea level, Clovis and Portales could draw all of its water allotment out of the lake in 47 of those 51 years.

On Feb. 18, 2004, the water authority unanimously agreed to establish the minimum pool at Ute Lake at 3,765 feet. At that meeting were representatives from Clovis, Elida, Grady, Melrose, Portales, Texico and Roosevelt County.

Each of those individual communities voted for the 3,765 minimum pool.

Eight months later, the Ute Water Commission voted to establish the minimum pool at 3,766 feet.

Since that time, the village of Logan has consistently relied upon the agreement of those elected representatives and believed that a minimum pool had been set at 3,765 feet.

To put it in context, this week Ute Lake sits at 3,776.88 feet above sea level. In the last 25 years there has been only one other month that the lake’s level was this low.

Yet, despite the fact that we are at historically low levels at Ute Lake, with a 3,765 minimum pool, Clovis and Portales could pump another 12 feet out of Ute Lake before it reached the 3,765 minimum pool.

That is in excess of 3 1/2 years of the water authority’s annual allotment.

During the last few months, at various water meetings, the 3,765 minimum pool has been placed into question. We do not clearly understand why, but we want Curry and Roosevelt County residents to know that we have a sincere desire to resolve this issue so the building of the pipeline can begin.

We are not trying to prevent the water authority from pumping Ute Lake water. We are simply asking that in times of drought, water authority members rely more on groundwater reserve and less on Ute Lake water so that all of our communities can continue to survive.

That’s a win/win for eastern New Mexico.