Water group receives funds for Ute Pipeline

Freedom New Mexico

The Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority Ute Water Pipeline Project was awarded $4.52 million in the 2008 Water Trust Board funding cycle Wednesday in Santa Fe, according to a press release from the city of Clovis.

The funding is a 20 percent loan, and 80 percent grant agreement, and is repayable over 20 years at .25 percent interest.

“Our state government is demonstrating complete commitment to this project,” water authority Chairman David Lansford said. “It’s nice when you’ve got that level of support, especially when you’re going to Washington to testify for federal funding.”

The Ute Pipeline would pump water from Ute Reservoir in Logan to eight entities in eastern New Mexico.

Portales Mayor and Authority Vice Chair Orlando Ortega is set to testify today before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

His testimony will be in favor of a Senate bill recently introduced to authorize $327 million in federal funding for the pipeline project.

Another round of testimony is scheduled in the second week of May for a companion House bill.

Lansford said a question he gets from federal representatives — a fair question, he said — is what kind of commitment the state and authority entities have shown.

The grant, given for the 2008 funding cycle, is similar to 2006 and 2007 grant/loan agreements the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority accepted last month from the board.

In total, the three grant/loan agreements are worth $8 million toward advancing the Ute Water Pipeline Project’s development toward 30 percent design completion.

“The timeline would indicate the third quarter of 2009,” Lansford said for the completion of the 30 percent design. “However, if things continue to progress as smoothly as they have been, I think it could be complete in mid-09.”

Lansford is optimistic for future funding from the Water Trust Board, based on its increased support of the project over the last few years.

“This time we requested, I believe, $6.3 million and we got $4.5 (million),” Lansford said. “They really try to prioritize projects, as well as projects that are ready to spend the money given to them. Because we’re ready to spend that money, that enhanced our application.”