Ute water measure expected to hit Senate Thursday

Freedom New Mexico

Authorization of the Ute Water Project is expected to be on the Senate floor Thursday, according to a release from U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M.

By a 68-24 vote Wednesday, the Senate approved cloture on Senate Bill 22. Cloture is a procedure to end debate and limit amendments on a measure, contrary to standard Senate rules which allow for unlimited debate.

Senate Bill 22 is a collection of 160 bills more commonly referred to as the Bingaman lands bill. It includes authorization for the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority.

A cloture vote requires 60 votes to proceed in a full Senate, but only 59 votes are needed currently with two senators yet to be seated.

Should the bill pass the Senate, it would move to the House of Representatives.

The bill allows the Bureau of Reclamation to spend up to $327 million to assist the authority build the pipeline project.

When completed, water from the Ute Reservoir in Quay County will be piped to the authority’s entities — currently Clovis, Portales, Texico, Grady, Elida, Melrose, and Curry and Roosevelt Counties.

The project would be funded 75 percent federally, 15 percent by the state and 10 percent by authority members. The projected cost of the Ute pipeline is $432 million and would take 10 to 12 years to complete.

Also included are measures for water projects in the San Juan River Basin and an irrigation infrastructure improvement act for the Rio Grande Pueblos.