Water project vital to community

By David Lansford: Guest Columnist

One of the most, if not the most, significant challenge facing Clovis in the 21st century is the provision of a sustainable water supply.

Numerous studies over the last 40 years indicate the need for the development of a sustainable water supply. All communities within Curry and Roosevelt counties rely solely on water reserves located in the Ogallala Aquifer. Every study available clearly demonstrates that this aquifer is being depleted.

Ultimately, as our water resources decline, our water delivery costs increase, water quality declines, and our community outlook becomes grim.

The facts supporting the assessment of our declining water supply must not be ignored. We can no longer wait for this problem to fix itself. Actions we take today will ensure a future for our children and future generations.

Conservation is an essential part of the overall plan for managing our water resources. However, municipal conservation is not adequate considering the amount of water being used for agricultural irrigation.

Current estimates indicate that more than 90 percent of the water taken from the Ogallala is for agricultural purposes. This poses a challenging situation for our communities considering the fact that agriculture is the bedrock of our economy.

The Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System, also known as the Ute Water Pipeline Project, provides the most efficient and dependable solution to our water challenges.

The concept of this project is almost 50 years old. In the 1950s the state of New Mexico funded the construction of a dam on the Canadian River, which created Ute Reservoir. The purpose of the reservoir is to provide a domestic water resource for the citizens of eastern New Mexico.

Several communities, including Clovis, have reserved water rights at the reservoir. The Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority was created from a group of elected officials from municipalities in eastern New Mexico to lead the development effort that will bring water via the pipeline to all communities within Curry and Roosevelt counties.

Over the years, many public meetings have been held to discuss the progress of the pipeline project. Our next public meeting will be held at 6 p.m., Monday at the Clovis-Carver Public Library, 701 Main St.

There will be an opportunity to meet with the project engineers at 6 p.m. followed by a presentation of the status of the project and a panel discussion beginning around 7:45 p.m. The meeting will be broadcast on cable channel 6.

We have received tremendous support from our federal delegation as this project has moved steadily toward development over the last several years.

Both Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Pete Domenici hold leadership positions on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. This committee will conduct a field hearing at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday at the Clovis library’s North Annex to hear testimony regarding this project.

Several representatives from both Curry and Roosevelt Counties, including myself along with state agency officials, will be making an urgent request for federal authorization.

It is this committee that will lead the process for ultimately obtaining federal authorization and funding for the project.

The Clovis community always unites to support programs that are vital to the well-being and future of our area. The Ute Pipeline Project represents the best alternative for providing a sustainable water supply well into the next century.

In addition, this project eliminates the competition for water resources that may exist between municipal, industrial and agricultural users.

As I am sure you will see at Monday’s meeting, this project is vital to our future. The Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority members are working diligently toward a successful and efficient project that will support the fundamental water needs of our area.

Community support is imperative at this critical phase in the project’s development and attendance at these meetings is greatly encouraged.

David Lansford is mayor of Clovis. Call him at 762-6746 or e-mail:
dmlansford@plateautel.net