Continuing reservation fees for Ute Lake water rights is an issue which affects the 12 entities in the Ute Reservoir Water Commission, said Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority Project Manager Scott Verhines.
“The reservation fee allows the entities to pay a reservation fee of $1.50 per acre foot,” Verhines said. “If the contract is not extended then that price would increase dramatically and include the cost of operating and maintaining the dam at Ute Lake.”
An extension of fees will be discussed Friday at the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission meeting.
“The contract for the reservation fee expires on Dec. 31, 2010,” said Village of Logan Manager Larry Wallin.
Wallin said no action will be taken during Friday’s meeting in Albuquerque. He said the contract has been extended twice before, and he does not foresee any reason it would not be continued.
Verhines said if the reservation fee was not extended the price would change from $1.50 to $25 per acre foot with a $5 operating and maintenance charge.
The Village of Logan has 400 acre feet of water rights equaling $600 annually in reservation fees and Quay County has 1,000 acre feet, totaling $15,000 annually . If the contract is not extended, Logan’s cost will increase to $10,000 and Quay County’s cost will increase to $25,000.
“That amount of an increase would strain the budget of any community or county government,” said Quay County Manager Richard Primrose.
The decision to not extend the reservation fee would also affect the efforts of the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System project, Verhines said.
The Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority has 16,450 acre feet at Ute Lake,” Verhines said. “It would quickly become a burden of cost to have to start paying $30 an acre foot.”
Verhines said the communities would have to decide if they wanted to purchase the water even though there is not a mechanism in place to deliver that water to their users.
“We are asking for a 10-year extension on the reservation fee,” Verhines said. “In the past the ISC has worked with us to extend the reservation fee as long as we can show them there is progress on the water system project.”