Official says Logan will continue to fight Ute water project

Despite its request for an injunction being denied in federal court, the Village of Logan will continue to fight construction of the Ute Water Project.

"We are very disappointed with Judge Johnson's ruling," said Larry Wallin, Village of Logan administrator.

U.S. District Court judge William P. Johnson's ruling rejecting the village's request on Jan. 14 cleared the way for construction to start on the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority's project to divert water from Ute Lake to communities in Curry and Roosevelt counties.

Wallin said although they have lost this battle, the process is only beginning. He said the authority currently has $20 million of an estimated $550 million needed to complete the project — 75 percent of which they expect to receive from the federal government.

Authority Chair Gayla Brumfield said construction on the first phase could begin by February. She said the authority has been in contact with the project coordinators who are gathering the necessary equipment to begin the construction.

"The injunction halted the gathering of personnel and equipment for the first phase," Brumfield said. "Though our project manager has informed the authority that construction could begin any day now."

Wallin said the answers to Clovis and Portales' water issues lie in the purchasing of agricultural water rights in Roosevelt and Curry Counties. He said the answer is not in spending a half-billion dollars to accomplish nothing but devastating Logan's economy.

Brumfield said the authority has already looked into the to lease or purchase of water rights from surrounding agricultural communities, which is to be the second phase of the project.

Wallin said in addition to analyzing Logan's options in court, the village would also focus on lobbying Congress. He said the village would be "very aggressive" in demonstrating to the Congressional delegation and others how devastating the Ute Water Project would be to the local economy. Wallin said Ute Lake will not support withdraws of 24,000 or (16,000) acre-feet annually.

Upon the completion of the authority's intake structure any entity wanting to take water out of the Reservoir will have to use their facility, said Richard Primrose, Quay County manager.

The City of Tucumcari has 6,000 acre-feet and the County has 1,000 acre-feet of water rights at Ute Lake.

The Interstate Streams Commission mandate is that when the authority's intake structure is in operation, no entity can withdraw water through any other intake structure, said Robert Lumpkin, city commissioner.

Lumpkin said the city has been selling 500 acre-feet to the 12 Shores on Ute Lake golf course six miles away from the proposed diversion point. He said in order to continue selling that water to the golf course, there would have to be a pipeline.

Lumpkin said the city had CDM Smith, formerly CDM engineering of Albuquerque conduct a study. The study estimated the cost of building a pipeline from the intake structure to the golf course would be $6 million, which would be paid for by the residents of Tucumcari.

Lumpkin said its not economically sound to build a pipeline to continue the sale of the water to the development at Ute Lake.

"We have intentions of keeping the city's water rights and finding beneficial use for those rights for the residents of Tucumcari," Lumpkin said.

Brumfield said the authority has every intention to work with the communities and entities of Quay County in a balanced way to benefit all of Eastern New Mexico.

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