“We are very disappointed with Judge Johnson’s ruling,” said Larry Wallin, Village of Logan administrator.
U.S. District Court judge William P. Johnson’s ruling rejecting the village’s request on Jan. 14 cleared the way for construction to start on the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority’s project to divert water from Ute Lake to communities in Curry and Roosevelt counties.
Wallin said although they have lost this battle, the process is only beginning. He said the authority currently has $20 million of an estimated $550 million needed to complete the project – 75 percent of which they expect to receive from the federal government.
Authority Chair Gayla Brumfield said construction on the first phase could begin by February. She said the authority has been in contact with the project coordinators who are gathering the necessary equipment to begin the construction.
“The injunction halted the gathering of personnel and equipment for the first phase,” Brumfield said. “Though our project manager has informed the authority that construction could begin any day now.”
Wallin said the answers to Clovis and Portales’ water issues lie in the purchasing of agricultural water rights in Roosevelt and Curry Counties. He said the answer is not in spending a half-billion dollars to accomplish nothing but devastating Logan’s economy.
Brumfield said the authority has already looked into the possibility of leasing or purchasing water rights from surrounding agricultural communities, which is to be the second phase of the project.
Wallin said in addition to analyzing Logan’s options in court, the village would also focus on lobbying Congress. He said the village would be “very aggressive” in demonstrating to the Congressional delegation and others how devastating the Ute Water Project would be to the local economy. Wallin said Ute Lake will not support withdrawals of 24,000 or (16,000) acre-feet annually.
Upon the completion of the authority’s intake structure, any entity wanting to take water out of the Reservoir will have to use their facility, said Richard Primrose, Quay County manager.
The City of Tucumcari has 6,000 acre-feet and the county has 1,000 acre-feet of water rights at Ute Lake.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal