By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
In an ironic twist, a capital outlay request that included $100,000 for the Ute Pipeline would also fund a new study of the feasibility of the project.
Some Quay County officials are opposed to the federally authorized $500 million project that would pump water from the Ute Reservoir near Logan to communities in the Clovis-Portales area.
If signed by the governor, a capital outlay would give the Tucumcari/Quay County Regional Water Authority $50,000 to conduct a new firm yield study.
Quay County officials say a drought that has stretched over a decade has compromised the ability of 20-year-old study on which the project is based to predict water supplies in Ute Lake over the next several decades.
Quay County communities have benefited from Ute Lake’s recreational opportunities, which the community leaders fear could be threatened if current allocations are taken from the lake annually to serve other water needs without regular inflow to replenish water levels.
Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan, who represents most of the communities involved in the dispute, attached the study funding to the Ute Pipeline Project request.
Gayla Brumfield, who chairs the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority, which oversees the pipeline project, said her group fully intends to move forward with the project.
Brumfield said the $100,000 the ENMRWA received will go toward the construction of an interim pipeline in northern Curry County. She said the engineering design of the second phase, a groundwater pipeline, is nearly complete and construction should begin within the next 18 months.
“The authority is confident in the existing studies and data and will continue to move forward,” Brumfield said.
Roch said he sees no reason for the ENMRWA to oppose the new study, since the feasibility of the pipeline, a 20-year project, is something they, too, need to determine.
The Village of Logan has lost injunction requests to stop the project at the state and federal level.
After a federal court ruled in its favor, the ENMRWA began construction in February 2013 on the Ute Pipeline Project’s first phase, a $20 million intake structure along the lake’s south shore.
Larry Wallin, manager of the Village of Logan, said he is happy the funding has been approved for the new study. He said the next step should be to send out requests for proposals to obtain bids from companies and organizations that could conduct the study.