WASHINGTON — New Mexico’s Congressional delegation introduced legislation Thursday that would authorized the federal government to build a pipeline that will carry water to several communities in Curry and Roosevelt counties.
The legislation — the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water System Authorization Act — calls for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to spend up to $327 million to assist the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority in the construction of the pipeline. The water will come from the Ute Reservoir, which was built on the Canadian River in 1959 as a sustainable water supply for eastern New Mexico.
Under the legislation, the state and ENMRWA, which represents communities in eastern New Mexico, would contribute 20 percent of the cost of construction. ENMRWA would operate and maintain the pipeline.
“The water supply and long-term security made available through this project is absolutely critical to eastern New Mexico’s future,” said Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-NM. “After years of planning, we are now ready to take the next big step toward making the Ute pipeline a reality.”
The bill needs to make it through House and Senate committees — local officials will travel to Washington (likely later this month) to testify in hearings before being put to a vote.
“There has long been a recognized need for a reliable and safe supply of potable water for eastern New Mexico,” said Rep. Tom Udall, D-NM. “After years of drought and ever-increasing population growth, this water supply legislation … is now absolutely critical for the continued economic well-being of Curry, Roosevelt and Quay counties. We cannot stand by and watch vibrant communities dissolve into ghost towns, especially when solutions exist.”
Communities that will be served by the pipeline include Grady, Clovis, Melrose, Texico, Portales, Elida and Cannon Air Force Base.
“I think it is critically important to our communities that this legislation has been introduced,” Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield said.