Obama budget allocating funds for Ute pipeline project

Freedom New Mexico

Some more dollars may be flowing toward the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System, with a $1.978 million federal allocation in President Obama’s 2013 budget.

That money makes $2.978 million in commitments to the pipeline project, which would deliver water from the Ute Reservoir in Quay County to entities that make up the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority. The Bureau of Reclamation announced last week $1 million for the project, also known as the Ute Water Project.

Gayla Brumfield, mayor of Clovis and chair of the authority, said the amount allotted was a surprise.

“It was something we’ve been working for,” Brumfield said. “We’ve worked so hard with the administration through the (Office of Management and Budget). But honestly, we were not expecting it. We were hoping for something around $1 million, so we were quite pleased to see that amount.

“This is the first time we’ve been in the president’s budget or even talked about in the president’s budget.”

Brumfield said a press conference was planned for Wednesday.

The money will be used for future phases of constructing an intake structure. The authority has enough money to begin the first phase of the intake structure construction, estimated at $11.5 million. The entire intake structure is expected to cost $27 million.

All items in the president’s budget are subject to congressional approval.

“I think we’ve got good, broad bipartisan support,” Brumfield said. “I think people understand these infrastructure projects are necessary for communities to survive. It’s not going to be easy; it’s going to be a battle. But I feel confident we’ll be able to keep it in there. That’s something we’re going to be working on today.”

The project, estimated at $432 million, was federally authorized in 2009 with an omnibus bill. Last week’s $1 million commitment from the BoR moved the project status from authorized to funded.

The share of the project is divided between federal (75 percent) state (15 percent) governments and authority members (10 percent).