Aquifer preservation initiative supported

By Vanessa Kahin
Staff reporter
vkahin@cnjonline.com

Members of the Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority agreed to support Clovis Mayor David Lansford’s initiative aimed to help conserve the Ogallala Aquifer in New Mexico during a regular meeting Thursday morning at the Clovis-Carver Library’s North Annex.
Lansford has discussed the New Mexico Ogallala Preservation and Conservation Initiative this week with members of the Curry County Commission as well as Clovis’ Water Policy Advisory Committee.

Members of both groups supported Lansford’s initiative; with the Curry County Commission offering support in the form of a resolution.
The ENMWUA was formed to oversee the Ute Water Project, which would bring water that’s been stored in the Ute reservoir in Logan into the area.
An interim pipeline project is also in the works, and is meant to provide groundwater to the area until the Ute project is complete.
“This initiative is not in conflict with the Ute Water Project at all,” Lansford said. “This initiative augments and supports this project.”
The initiative involves requesting federal funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, a Farm Bill program under the USDA.
Outlined in the mayor’s plan, federal funds would be used to pay area farmers about $400 an acre to switch from irrigation to dryland farming. The funds would also be used to restore and maintain the area’s playas.

Lansford said a preliminary application for a $4.1 million USDA grant to fund the initiative has been approved. A final application is due Oct. 2.
Also under business items, the ENMWUA discussed:
• Resolution 2015-02 approval to make application to the Water Trust Board for 2015, which was approved unanimously by the ENMWUA. Members Caleb Chandler and Leo Lovett were absent;

• Consideration/action for ASI change order no. 3. This involves increasing the project’s contract time to allow for setbacks such as windy days, said Ute Water Project Program Manager Paul van Gulick.
The extension of contract time would decrease the cost of the contract by about $200,000, van Gulick said.

• ENMWUA employee search. ENMWUA Chairperson Gayla Brumfield said the authority is searching for an executive director; a position that’s been advertised nationally. She noted the position remains open, and has been advertised as open until filled.
The next Eastern New Mexico Water Utility Authority meeting is set to take place at 10 a.m. Sept. 18 in Portales.