The Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority had a pair of firsts Monday.
In the afternoon, it unsealed its first bids for work on the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System, more commonly known as the Ute Water Project.
In the morning, it hired its first outside counsel.
Following a 25-minute executive session at Clovis City Hall, the authority agreed to hire the Montgomery and Andrews Law Firm of Santa Fe in response to last week's lawsuit filed by the Village of Logan to halt construction, funding and advancement of any portion of the water project.
The project would pipe water for mostly residential use from Ute Reservoir in Quay County to authority members in Roosevelt and Curry counties.
The suit contends that environmental assessments used dated information, and more current data would have shown the project would have an adverse effect on the village.
Authority Chair Gayla Brumfield declined comment on the executive session and the suit, delivered to her following the meeting by Buneesa "Bunny" Terry, chamber secretary for the Ute Lake and Logan Chamber of Commerce — except to note the authority hired the law firm.
"They understand the processes and the regulations," Brumfield said, "and they're a respected law firm in Santa Fe."
The authority met in the afternoon, and unsealed three bids for the first phase of the project, which includes blasting, tunneling and screens for an intake structure, or pumping station. All three bids came in greater than a pre-process engineer's assessment of $11.46 million.
The bids, in order of unsealing, were:
• $13.98 million from ASI Constructors, Inc. of Pueblo West, Colo.
• $18.269 million from Krewit New Mexico of Albuquerque.
• $22.34 million from James W. Fowler Company of Dallas, Ore.
Staffers will meet regarding the bids prior to the authority's next meeting, set for 10 a.m. May 22 at Melrose City Hall.
Project Manager Paul von Gulick said although he would have liked to see lower bids, he's been pleased so far with the process.
"It's specialty construction, so (bid variance) is not a surprise," he said.