The Tucumcari Quay County Regional Water Authority armed itself Thursday for a long legal battle to pull the plug on the first phase of the Ute Water Project.
The authority hired a Santa Fe legal firm to represent it with plans to ask for a new federal appeals court review. It also created a committee to lobby state and federal lawmakers against the Ute project.
The moves are the latest ripple in a wave of attempts by various Quay County entities to stop the project before it can begin siphoning water from Ute Lake to boost dwindling supplies to communities such as Clovis and Portales.
The Village of Logan has lost demands for injunctions to stop the project in both state and federal courts. Logan's latest appeal was rejected Tuesday by the U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.
Authority member Warren Frost, also an attorney, said hiring the Lopez and Sakura law firm is necessary for continuing litigation against the power behind the project — the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority (ENMWUA). Frost said one of the first orders of business will be for the Tucumcari Quay authority to intervene in the Logan injunction case and take a new appeal to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colo.
Undaunted, the chair of the ENMWUA, Gayla Brumfield of Clovis, vowed the Ute Water Project will proceed as planned.
"We are going to continue to move forward with the project," said Brumfield, adding that construction is moving forward with the first phase — a pumping station. Brumfield also said the authority will continue with efforts to bring drinking water to their entities.
The project would eventually pump water from the Ute Reservoir in Quay County to the member entities of Clovis, Portales, Elida, Texico, Grady, Melrose and Curry and Roosevelt counties.
"We have to do a better job of educating our state and federal legislators, about the impact this project will have on Quay County and its communities," Frost said.
On Frost's motion, the authority created a legislative committee made up of Tucumcari City Commissioner Robert Lumpkin, Quay County Manager Richard Primrose and himself. Frost said they will travel to Santa Fe and Washington D.C. to meet with Legislative and Congressional delegations.
"This is a great idea, one which I have discussed the importance of with Lumpkin in the past," said Tucumcari City Manager Doug Powers.