Second blast at water project construction site

A second controlled explosion rumbled under the Ute lake shoreline May 22 at the construction site of the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority's water project near Logan.

Courtesy illustration: CH2M Hill

Video frames capture the action from the second controlled explosion at the Ute Water Project site on the shore of Ute Lake on May 22. This blast and the first on May 17 are clearing the way for an intake structure for a pipeline to carry water from Ute Lake to Curry and Roosevelt counties.

And on Friday, Thomas Hnasko, the Village of Logan's lead counsel in its opposition of the water project, said the village was filing for injunction in 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to halt the construction.

After the first explosion on May 17, Hnasko said the blasting was an economic waste and brazen act by the authority while a request for injunction against project had been pending in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.

In that request, Hnasko said, the village had asked the district court to impose an injunction against project construction because the village had appealed an earlier district court decision made in January. In that decision, the district court had denied a motion for injunction the village had filed based on the water utility's failure to conduct an environment impact study before beginning construction.

The district court denied the injunction, stating the water authority had complied with applicable environmental laws.

The first controlled blast on May 17 was scarcely noticed in Logan or by neighbors.

Jim Meyer, whose home is located a little more than 100 yards away from the construction site, said the second blast was a little more noticeable than the first.

A natural embankment shields Meyer's residence from the actual construction site, although the site's portable offices and crane can be easily viewed from his front or back yard.

Meyer said the construction crews informed him about the work they would be conducting at the site including the controlled blasting. He said the first explosion was not too loud, though the second one made him take notice.

Meyer said when he is down by the cove fishing, he can see the shaft they are building for the intake structure. He said the noise has been minimal and so far the work has not had an affect on his fishing.

"I hate to see the lake drop any lower, though they say they have the rights to the water so what can you do," Meyer said.

The blasting is part of a $550-million project that will pipe water to Curry and Roosevelt counties from Ute Lake. The blasting at the lake is part of a $20-million first phase of the project — the foundation for the intake structure, which is the entryway for the pipeline.

While the first phase is under construction, the authority is currently coordinating engineering and design for the second phase of the project, an interim pipeline that will run west toward Portales, Cannon Air Force Base and Elida.

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