Mayor urges Ute Pipeline support

By Orlando Ortega Jr.: Guest Commentary

On Tuesday, the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources — led by New Mexico Sens. Jeff Bingaman and Pete Domenici — will hold a field hearing in Clovis to discuss the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority’s efforts to build the Ute Pipeline.

I have long been a supporter of the Ute Pipeline Project, and am proud to serve as vice chairman of the Eastern New Mexico Rural Water Authority.

While we have been working to improve our water supply in a variety of ways, including the purchase of additional property and water rights, we must aggressively continue to explore other alternatives to ensure the continued availability of water for our region.

Today, the most viable alternative is the Ute Pipeline, which has the potential to provide eastern New Mexico with a long-term, renewable water source by linking our communities to Ute Reservoir near Logan in Quay County.

The cost of this project is tremendous, but with the assistance of Congress, the state of New Mexico, and contributions from communities like the city of Portales, we can afford to build this important pipeline.

Significant progress has been made in support of this project. Working together, the Legislature and Gov. Richardson have invested millions of dollars in the Water Trust Fund, which seeks to provide funding for water projects across New Mexico. In addition, Sens. Bingaman and Domenici have agreed to co-sponsor legislation that will provide significant funding for the Ute Pipeline.

It’s critical to reinforce the importance of this project with our elected officials in Washington, and I’m urging my fellow Portales residents to attend Tuesday’s hearing and ensure that our voice is heard.

The Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday at Clovis-Carver Public Library.

Orlando Ortega Jr. is mayor of Portales. Contact him at 356-6662, ext. 10 or by e-mail: