City questions responsibility for lake efforts

By Steve Hansen
Tucumcari City Manager Jared Langenegger and some commissioners have questioned the city’s involvement with efforts to keep water in Ute Lake for recreation.
Concerns were raised Thursday at a City Commission work session.
Mayor Pro Tem Robert Lumpkin for nine years has been active in efforts to assure a “minimum pool” in Ute Lake, especially in the face of efforts by communities in southern counties to claim up to 24,000 acre feet of Ute Lake water.
An acre foot is equal to about 325,900 gallons, roughly the equivalent of what a typical household uses in a year.
Lumpkin has been prominent in efforts to show that the removal of that much water would threaten the lake’s ability to support recreation.
His efforts have focused on opposing the plan of the Eastern New Mexico Municipal Water Utility Authority to construct a $500 million pipeline over 20 years to carry water from Ute Lake to communities in Curry and Roosevelt counties, whose future water supplies are threatened by depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer, their chief water source.
Langenegger said the effort to maintain recreational depth at Ute Lake mainly benefits Logan, with only limited benefits to Tucumcari.
District 1 Commissioner Ralph Moya asked if the main responsibility for defending the lake’s minimum pool should not be the county’s.
Lumpkin responded that the county is very much involved in the effort.
He also said Tucumcari does benefit from Ute Lake’s recreational use because visitors to Ute Lake and Logan often need to buy things that are available in Tucumcari but not in Logan.
Lumpkin said more than 300 jobs in the county are attributable to recreation at Ute Lake, and that Tucumcari benefits from those jobs, as well.
The commission agreed to allow Lumpkin to give a presentation at a later meeting.
Lumpkin said his presentation will demonstrate clearly what his efforts have accomplished over the past nine years and why Ute Lake’s recreational value is important to Tucumcari.
While Tucumcari is entitled to 6,000 acre feet of Ute Lake water, the city draws its water from wells near Five Mile Park at the city’s eastern edge. Those wells can sustain an adequate water supply through at least 2060, according to studies done for the county’s 40-year water plan.

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