Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Eamon Scarbrough
Staff writer 

Water authority discusses scenario planning


March 22, 2017

The strategic utilization of uncertainties about the future was the subject of a presentation at the Tuesday morning Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority meeting at the Memorial Building in Portales.

Ralph Marra, founder and senior principal of Southwest Water Resources Consulting, presented an overview of scenario planning, which he said involves operating in “planning environments that have a lot of uncertainty in them.”

Marra said that scenario planning identifies several different scenarios entities can follow so they do not become saddled with one option in difficult situations.

“Probability doesn’t work, because so often when we’re trying to make decisions, we find that what we think is going to happen doesn’t,” he said.

The most important part of scenario planning is determining the primary issue at hand, in this case in the form of a “focal question,” according to Marra.

The process of forming the question involves many different issues, he said, which are developed through workshops that include conversations with everyone involved. Marra and his staff then develop the focal question, from which a plan encompassing several scenarios is developed.

ENMWUA Executive Director Justin Howalt saw Marra’s services as a way to determine how each community’s water conservation efforts fit into the authority’s work.

“If it’s something that you guys are interested in, I’d be happy to continue to work with Ralph, and we can look at getting scope and fee put together, and bring it to you at a future meeting,” he said.

The following were actions taken at the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority meeting Thursday morning at the Memorial Building in Portales:

• In her report, Chairperson Gayla Brumfield said she believed it was time to consider a public-private partnership to move the Ute water pipeline project forward.

She said she planned to speak with Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall Monday to make sure they were aware the authority was considering a partnership.

“I think if we could move forward to really come up with a plan for the P3 and really look at it diligently, and then I think by getting our delegation involved, we could leverage the federal money with that,” she said.

• Speaking on behalf of state lobbyist Joe Thompson, ENMWUA Executive Director Justin Howalt informed members that he is continuing to watch certain bills in the state legislature.

“House Bill 5 and Senate Bill 112, which are the bills that eliminated the Water Trust Board funding for FY (fiscal year) 2017, they’re still sitting there in committee,” he said.

• Howalt reported on behalf of Federal Consultant John Ryan that President Donald Trump had released his budget outline.

“Inside that outline language, there was language that said that the water resources in the western United States — which is basically the Bureau of Reclamation — is scheduled for about $1 billion, which is about their normal operating costs in the past,” he said. “Of course, it’s still just the start. It’s just a negotiation at this point. This is the first outlook that we’ve seen on it.”

• Barbara Crockett of CH2MHill gave the engineering firm’s report, stating that easements for the first package of the interim pipeline project are “going well.”

Appraisals on the second package of easements are nearing completion, she added.

“Hopefully we’ll get all the easements for these two packages in place in the next few months,” she said.


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