Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Eamon Scarbrough
Staff Writer 

Water authority applies for project funding


May 31, 2017

ELIDA — The federal government has set aside $46.5 million for rural water projects across the country. Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority officials are hoping some of that money will flow their way.

Consultant John Ryan said he and others met with federal officials last week in Washington, D.C., to make a pitch for funding.

Ryan said at Thursday’s ENMWUA meeting in Elida that any federal allocation would be decided within 20 days from Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Ryan, along with ENMWUA Executive Director Justin Howalt and Chair Gayla Brumfield, met with staff members from the New Mexico congressional delegation, the U.S. Department of Interior, and the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations.

“Our effort was primarily to discuss budget, to go over the possibility of any infrastructure bill that may be considered,” Ryan said.

“If there’s lists ... we want to be on them,” he said. “We made sure that we presented the project in a way that showed that we are shovel-ready on $60 million worth of projects.”

He said the group emphasized the project would serve Cannon Air Force Base.

“The fact that we serve a military base, we thought, would be a good reference to our project, since we’re the only rural water project that serves a military base,” he said.

Ryan said the authority was included in President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget in the amount of $1.8 million.

Also at Thursday’s meeting included:

• The authority’s preliminary budget for the 2018 fiscal year has been trimmed of excess spending while continuing the organization’s rural water project, said Howalt.

Authority members approved the budget, which included a cash balance of $4 million.

Compared to the budget for fiscal year 2017, the general fund expenditures in the new budget have decreased $13,000, Howalt said.

“We’re trying to remain as responsible as we can,” he said.

Also included in the budget was $8.7 million in grants, $1.7 million in the general fund, and $2.9 million in operating expenses.

• Authority members approved an easement agreement on a property in Curry County.

The property, located along New Mexico 467 near the Roosevelt County line, belongs to the Lewis family, with the agreement totaling $2,350.

The easement consists of both a temporary and permanent construction easement set on a three-year timeline once construction has begun, Howalt said.

“Once we start construction on a property, we’ll notify them, and then we have basically a year to complete the construction along somebody’s property, and then we have an additional two years built in there to allow us to come back in there and restore their property,” he said.

• Howalt, delivering state lobbyist Joe Thompson’s report, said Thompson was at the New Mexico Legislature’s special session.

He said Thompson is paying close attention to Senate Bill 1, which would renew any severance tax bonds going toward water projects.

“It’s not something that is shocking to us. We knew that it was probably going to be put back in. It happened in an earlier session as well,” he said.

• The authority opted to include an item in the next meeting in which it would discuss which line in the Ute water pipeline project would be built first: The line connecting CAFB to Clovis, or the line connecting it to Portales.


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