Deadline set for financial withdrawal from Ute project

CNJ staff

A deadline to end financial responsibility for the four entities officially withdrawn from the Ute pipeline project was established at Wednesday’s Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority meeting in Melrose.

The four entities that withdrew earlier this year — Quay County, Tucumcari, Logan and San Jon — will not be responsible for any expenses incurred since June 30 by the water authority, but will be required to pay their part on expenses incurred before that date.

Eight entities remain committed to the $300 million project, officials say, which would supply communities in eastern New Mexico with water from Ute Reservoir near Logan in Quay County.

Officials offered several reports about the status of the Ute pipeline project during the meeting.

• The New Mexico Finance Board recently met in Taos and approved $1 million of project funding. Scott Verhines, program manager for the pipeline project, reported the funds will be available to draw on as soon as all remaining participants submit audited financial statements for fiscal years 2003 and 2004.

• Officials said a request has been made to Congress for members of the legislative body to meet with the committee to discuss possible $6 million funding for the project. According to Verhines, Congress has yet to respond.

• Brock Mcewen, technical manager of CH2M Hill Engineering, informed the members of the committee of the development of a geographical information system. This system contains satellite imagery that will help determine the best layout for the pipeline, officials said.

• The Rural Water Authority financial report was presented at the meeting detailing expenses and income since 2003. Total income from member entities was reported at $388,000 and expenses came in at $557,000.

• A report was given on the condition of Ute Reservoir. The Reservoir is a little under three feet from release point and has a year-to-date increase of 7,500 acre feet, officials said.

• The committee was invited to meet Aug. 16 in Bueyeros to tour the Ute Creek Watershed Restoration and Management Project. The project began in August 2003 and has treated approximately 2,800 acres of Tamarisk. The goal of this project is to increase water supply for New Mexico.

The next water authority meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 17 in Texico.