Water authority approves money to aid Logan legal battle

Tucumcari Quay County Regional Water Authority continues with efforts to help the Village of Logan's legal battle to stop the Ute Water Project.

The authority approved the use of $200,000 it received from Tucumcari.

The money allocated to the authority comes from a fund that has been set aside by the city and approved by the voters to development of infrastructure to bring water to the city from Ute Lake and protect its water rights at the Reservoir, said Doug Powers, city manager.

Powers said the money is generated from a quarter of a cent from the Gross Receipts Tax collected each year. He said the money could only be used towards issues that involve protecting and using the city's water rights at Ute Lake.

The $200,000 will be used to pay legal costs to aid Logan litigation against the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority said Richard Primrose, authority chair.

Primrose said Logan's litigation asks for the ENMWUA to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for their Ute Water Project in lieu of the Environment Assessment (EA), which was done.

He said the authority hired the Hinkle law firm in Santa Fe to intervene by filing at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colo. The appeal asks the court to reconsider Logan's requests for injunctions to stop the project, which have been denied in both state and federal courts.

Primrose said the appeal cost $62,188 to file, which will be paid for by the money allocated by Tucumcari. He said the authority would go before the city commission to approve the use of the money to pay a previous legal debt of $27,919 accrued by the authority.

Logan has already spent more than $300,000 on it's own in legal fees in an effort to halt construction of the project until an EIS is completed, said Warren Frost, an attorney and Logan's representative on the authority.

Frost said the EIS should be required since 70 percent of the ENWUA funding is requested from the federal government. He said the EA is a short circuit report, while the EIS is a fully detailed report on the affects of the project.

Frost said Logan appreciates the authority and Tucumcari getting involved in their litigation with the ENMWUA.

Tucumcari not only has water rights that can be used for drinking water or future economic development, it also benefits from the revenue generated by recreation at Ute Lake, said Robert Lumpkin, city commissioner.

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