Meetings watch: Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority

At the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority meeting Thursday in Portales City Hall, authority representatives:

agreed to allow lobbyist John Ryan to plan a local Nov. 4 event in which stakeholders in the Ute Water Pipeline would give testimony about themselves and the need for the pipeline and the $25 million the authority is requesting from the federal government for the project. Ryan said they needed to communicate urgency to this area’s Congressional delegation and, especially, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

Local elected officials need to let federal representatives know the water level in wells is dropping fast, and the area will need another source of potable water to prevent a decrease in economic activity, he said.

Ryan suggested a hearing-type format and said State Engineer John D’Antonio wanted to speak in support of the pipeline. He would also like to provide federal representatives with packets containing letters from the involved entities.

passed a resolution approving the execution of an almost-finalized contract between the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission and the Ute Reservoir Water Commission for the purchase of water. The authority is to enter into the contract as a limited party to build and maintain the intake structure that would remove the water from Ute Lake for the pipeline, Portales Mayor and Authority Vice-Chair Sharon King said.

The City of Tucumcari, which gets its water from the lake, is also set to enter into the contract as a limited party, she said.

Planners hope to have the contract in effect by Dec. 31.

heard authority Project Manager Scott Verhines say he expected the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would issue a concurrence letter stating that plans to protect animals that might be affected by the pipeline were sufficient. King said that meant the authority can go forward with its plans.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation and Interstate Stream Commission had been working together to develop satisfactory arrangements.