Water authority receives $14.8 million
Last updated 2/15/2021 at 3:39pm
CLOVIS — The Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority has, for the second straight year, received a major injection of federal dollars with the Bureau of Reclamation giving notice for $14.8 million in 2021 appropriations.
The authority is tasked for construction and eventual operation of the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System, which will deliver potable water from the Ute Reservoir in Quay County to member communities Clovis, Portales, Texico and Elida. Clovis’ allocation also includes Cannon Air Force Base.
The authority is currently working on an interim groundwater pipeline that can be used to distribute water purchased from local landowners. The authority’s last major construction project would then be connecting the interim groundwater system to the reservoir.
The money is slated to aid in Finished Water 3, which will take the interim pipeline system from Cannon Air Force Base to Portales. The pipeline reached the base through Finished Water 2.
Last February, the authority received a $15 million appropriation for its projects.
In a joint release from Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan, Portales Mayor and Authority Vice chair Ron Jackson said the authority was pleased with the news.
“The ENMWUA is working diligently in developing the means in providing a renewable water source for our communities for generations to come,” Jackson said. “This funding will be put to constructing pipeline, putting people to work, and building a secure future for Portales and our member communities.”
The release said that since the 2019 fiscal year, the annual federal investment has nearly tripled.
“I am pleased with the continued commitment to this project. Tripling the historic federal investment in the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System is a major victory,” said Heinrich. “We have known for a long time that pumping unlimited groundwater from the Ogallala Aquifer is unsustainable. That’s why we must ensure that critical investments in this project remain funded so that ENMWUA can continue to provide eastern New Mexico a dependable, reliable water supply for generations to come.”
The project will replace current groundwater supplies from the Ogallala Aquifer with renewable sources from Ute Reservoir. The Fourth National Climate Assessment warns that producers like the aquifer are extracting water faster than it can be replenished and should be considered non-renewable.
“Eastern New Mexico faces a groundwater shortage that threatens the economic and public health future of rural communities in the region. I’m proud to have fought for this continued investment to relieve the stress on the Ogallala Aquifer in favor of a renewable source, which will provide water for these communities for years to come,” said Luján. “I’ll continue working alongside the New Mexico delegation to bring much-needed resources and infrastructure investments to our state.”
Authority Chair David Lansford said it was “exciting” to know the authority would have funding to get the project to reach Portales.
“This funding will connect another member community to the Finished Water portion of the pipeline, an important part of the overall Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System,” Lansford said. “The ENMWUA is committed to its member communities in developing this important infrastructure for the people of this region.”