By Brittney Cannon
The Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority is anticipating an estimated $4.2 million in grants to help speed up construction of the Ute Pipeline in the next few months, according to authority leaders.
“The Water Trust Board funding is becoming available as well as the Bureau of Reclamation,” said newly appointed ENMWUA Executive Director Justin Howalt.
Howalt assumed the job of running the authority and managing the pipeline project 10 days ago.
“It’s going really well; there’s a lot of information coming at me,” Howalt said. “We’re working on policies and procedures for the authority, working with the Bureau of Reclamation and the Water Trust Board. There are just a lot of exciting things happening.”
ENMWUA Board Chair Gayla Brumfield said the Water Trust Board, a state agency that aids in funding projects through the Water Project Finance Act, might award the Ute Pipeline project $3.2 million, although the authority requested more.
“We asked for $5 million, so whatever they award us, we don’t know how much that amount will be,” Brumfield said. “We typically request $5 million about every year, and we received $3.2 million last year. You just never know.”
Brumfield said the authority also expects an additional allocation around $1 million from the Bureau of Reclamation, a federal agency that supplies much of the western U.S. with water.
“We got word that we received a little over $800,000,” Brumfield said. “Hopefully that is going to be somewhere around a million. That’s what we’re anticipating.”
Brumfield said Col. Ben Maitre, base commander at Cannon Air Force Base, sent the authority a strong letter of support. Brumfield said she plans to take the letter with her to Washington, D.C. next week when she meets with the bureau.
The project is designed to eventually pipe fresh water from the Ute Reservoir to communities in Curry and Roosevelt counties, including Clovis and Portales.
“They realize the situation of the water, and they believe that the answer to the sustainable piece is the Ute project,” Brumfield said.
The project is moving forward, Howalt said. A successful bidding process for the Elida pump station has been completed, Howalt said, and construction should begin in the next few months.
According to Brumfield, the pump station will cost around $800,000 to complete, and its construction should be finished in less than a year. The construction company working on the pump station, Brumfield said, is RMCI, Inc. of Albuquerque.
The pump station will bring more water from Portales to Elida, Brumfield said, and will save several miles of pipeline that would cost millions more dollars.
“Because we’re able to put the pump station there — it’s a pressure pump that will help send water from Portales to Elida — it saved us money,” Brumfield said. “Portales will use their infrastructure so we don’t have to build all of the pipeline. That pump station will be there to give it the lift to get (water) on down there (to Elida), and it helps Portales to get the boost they need.”