Who will get the water in Ute Lake?

Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers

The Ute Water Project has been approved. But there are plenty of details left to pour over.

The dry facts:
The Ute Water Project would deliver water from the Ute Reservoir in Quay County to the eight member entities of the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority. Those members are Clovis, Portales, Melrose, Grady, Elida, Texico and Roosevelt and Curry counties.

The pipes, which will range in size from 48 inches in diameter at the start of the reservoir to 8 inches in diameter in Elida, will deliver 16,450 acre feet of water per year. One acre foot equals about 330,000 gallons.

Scott Verhines, project manager, said the pipeline would likely deliver 12,000 acre feet within its first year of operation.

“When we first turn the system on, there won’t be a demand for all of that immediately, because we projected growth.”

The estimated cost of the project is $432 million, with the federal government paying 75 percent, the state 15 and the authority members 10 percent.

Portales Mayor and Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority Vice Chair Orlando Ortega said a new cost estimate is needed, as the most recent estimate is from 2005.

The legislation was put in an omnibus lands bill, passed the Senate and House of Representatives and was signed into law by President Barack Obama March 30.

When can it start:
The project is authorized, but has not been funded.

“The project may have been approved but its completion is still 15 years down the line,” said Larry Wallin, Logan Village Manager.

Wallin said